The 2021 NHL Stanley Cup Final is finally here! Will it be a 24th win for the historic Montreal Canadiens? Or are the Lightning strong enough to take down the prestigious prize for a second straight campaign? Have a read below for all our NHL picks.
Montreal Canadiens @ Tampa Bay Lightning ( Final – Game 1) – 8.00 PM EDT
While the Lightning were always a favourite to reach the Stanley Cup following their win last season, on the other hand, after nearly 30 years away from the final the Habs started the season as +3300 underdogs to lift the trophy. After an inspirational postseason run which saw them take down some of the competition heavyweights the Canadiens now have one more hurdle in their way.
Cole Caulfield has provided some heroic moments during the Habs journey to the final, while both Nick Suzuki and Tyler Toffoli have done the bulk of the scoring 13 and 14 points respectively.
It is hard to imagine the Habs in this position had it not been for the consistent performances of Carey Price in net, the veteran shot stopper, who experienced an average at best regular season has completely levelled up in the postseason, allowing just 2.18 goals per game and saving at an impressive .934 percentage.
Price will need to continue to be at his best against the Lightning, who boast the second best goals per game average at 3.22 after 18 games. Nikita Kucherov has unsurprisingly been the one creating the bulk of the chances, the star Russian has picked up 5 goals on top of a whopping 22 assists.
— Tampa Bay Lightning (@TBLightning) June 28, 2021
Brayden Point has also enjoyed an incredible postseason, the aptly named center leads the team for goals scored with 14, 9 of which came in consecutive games.
The Tampa Bay side aren’t just strong going forward, with an average goals against of just 2.06 they are the best defensive side in the competition and have found a lot of success when scoring the first goal, often able to keep their opponent from getting back into the game.
The Lightning claim the hosting duties for this one, a position that has served them very poorly in the postseason up until now, with a 0-3 record from the first home game of a series. However, we are backing them in to buck the tradition in this one, the Habs are a defensively stingy side, but this Lightning side are yet to be kept goalless and are the only team to outperform the Habs at the backline.
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*Odds and spreads correct at time of publication, courtesy of FanDuel.