NHL

Tampa Bay Lightning at Colorado Avalanche Game 1 Odds and Picks

The Tampa Bay Lightning have won the previous two Stanley Cup Finals.

Colorado swept the season series from Tampa Bay, winning in a shootout on the road and by one goal at home.

That win in Denver snapped a streak of five straight wins by the Lightning win visiting the Avalanche.

Introduction

Is a three-peat in store for the Tampa Bay Lightning? That is what is at stake as they visit the Colorado Avalanche for Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals at 8 p.m. ET on Wednesday. It is the first time in three Finals that the Lightning will start on the road.

However, they won the 2021 championship, having lost the first game, so they are comfortable coming back in a series.

It’s the first Finals appearance in 21 years for the Avalanche, who sported the league’s best record before the Florida Panthers clinched while Colorado dealt with some injuries.

Though the postseason allowed Colorado to showcase its potential, sweeping the Nashville Predators in the first round and the Edmonton Oilers in the Western Conference Finals. 

They had a six-game series win over the St. Louis Blues in between.

Tampa Bay’s path to winning the East was a little longer. They trailed 3-2 and won a Game 7 in Toronto in the first series, then swept the Panthers and won four straight after dropping the first two to the New York Rangers in the conference finals.

Tampa Bay Lightning at Colorado Avalanche Game 1 Odds

TeamsMoneylineTotalGoal Line
Tampa Bay Lightning+141O6 (-115)+1.5 (-195)
Colorado Avalanche-156U6 (+104)-1.5 (+170)

The odds listed above are courtesy of Bet Online. To explain how it works, we’ll use $100 as the unit, though only bet what you’re comfortable doing and can afford to lose.

A $100 bet on the Lightning moneyline means if they win, the bettor wins $141 and gets a total payout of $241. A bet on the Avalanche moneyline means one must bet $156 to profit $100 or payout $256.

The over/under is believed to be more than six goals, listed as the favorite. Anything with a “plus” sign is less likely to happen, hence a greater payout if it does.

Betting over six means cashing would take a combined seven or more goals. Betting under six means a total of five or less cashes.

Then the goal line is like handicapping. Oddsmakers believe the Lightning will lose by one goal or less or even win outright with +1.5.

That’s what is needed to win their goal line, while a bet on Avalanche -1.5 is simply a win by two goals or more for Colorado, which oddsmakers say is unlikely.

For reference, 72% of bettors are on the Avalanche moneyline, and 66% are on the over.

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Tampa Bay Lightning at Colorado Avalanche Game 1 Betting Preview

Tampa Bay Lightning Preview

The 27-year-old Andrei Vasilevskiy has been the goaltender for the previous two Stanley Cup titles, so the stage is not too bright for him. This postseason he is 12-5 with a .928 save percentage and 2.27 goals against average.

In the postseason, the under is 11-6 in Lightning games, including 10 of the last 11 games. That includes a 9-2 stretch straight up with five one-goal games, regardless of the result.

The first line for the Lightning has been lethal so far. Right wing Nikita Kucherov has a team-best 23 points this postseason with 17 assists. 

Center Steven Stamkos, the captain, has nine goals to go with his 15 postseason points. Left wing Ondrej Palat has eight goals and eight assists in the postseason.

During the regular season, the offense scored 3.5 goals per game, which was the eighth-best rate in the NHL. They were also eighth on the power play (23.9%) and were efficient, taking only 30.9 shots, ranking 17th.

In the playoffs, though, their scoring average dipped to 3.2 goals per game, which was still good enough to get to the final series.

Defensively they were sixth in allowing 2.8 goals per game in the regular season. Tampa Bay’s penalty kill of 80.6% was 11th. Though they’ve only allowed 2.4 per contest in the postseason, including five total in their last four games — all wins.

Colorado Avalanche Preview

Colorado has used a pair of goalies in the postseason. Darcy Kuemper got the initial starts in the first series before giving way to Pavel Francouz to close out the sweep of the Panthers.

Kuemper was in the net for all six games against the Blues and then Francouz for the sweep of the Oilers. It’s unclear who will start in the net with each starting a regular-season matchup.

Defenseman Cale Makar is the postseason team leader in points with 22, coming from 17 assists. Blossoming star Nathan MacKinnon has 11 goals as part of his 18 points.

The Avalanche have a high-powered offense, scoring 3.8 goals per contest in the regular season, ranking fourth. They were on the attack a lot and converted 24% of power plays, ranking seventh. They upped it to 4.64 goals during the playoffs.

Defensively there have been some struggles but still top 10, allowing 2.8 goals per game (ninth) and killing off 79.7% of power plays (15th). They gave up 2.86 goals in the postseason.

The over is 8-6 in the postseason for the Avalanche.

Injury Report

Three defensemen are out for the series. Former champion Brent Seabrook is out for the Lightning. Colorado’s Ryan Murray and Samuel Girard are out for the year. Losing Girard — who was on the second line — in late May caused some adjustments.

Some cause for concern for the Avs, Nazem Kadri is questionable with a thumb. He has 97 points (28 goals, 59 assists) as the second line center. Third line left wing Andre Burakovsky is probable (lower body).

Tampa Bay’s Brayden Point is questionable with a leg injury. He’s played in seven postseason games with two goals and two assists. He had 58 points in 66 games, including ten power play goals, during the regular season.

Tampa Bay Lightning at Colorado Avalanche Game 1 Picks and Predictions

The Lightning won’t be afraid of the moment or hostile environment, whereas the Avalanche, with a young star, are back in the Finals for the first time in two decades.

A defensive group led by Victor Hedman and Ryan McDonagh will be poised in front of arguably the best goaltender in hockey, certainly of the past two postseasons.

In the previous three meetings (including 2020), the favored team has won twice, and the over has hit twice. All three games were decided by one goal, too. With the Avalanche well-rested and on home ice, having won twice already in the season series could be a recipe for an Avs’ Game 1 win.

The odds are greater for the Avalanche to win by two or more compared to the Lightning winning, and the heavy likelihood it is a one-goal game is a tad suspicious. We’ll go against the public and regular season trends.

The Pick: Tampa Bay Lightning +141

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