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Stanley Cup Odds and Betting Preview
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The Avalanche open the Stanley Cup Final as favourites to defeat the Tampa Bay Lightning
The matchup is set for the Stanley Cup Final.
The Colorado Avalanche will face the Tampa Bay Lightning for the opportunity to lift Lord Stanley’s mug, with the championship series beginning Wednesday in Denver.
For the Avalanche, this represents the first opportunity since 2001 for this franchise to win the Stanley Cup. Colorado has been the favourite throughout this post-season to win it all, after completing two series sweeps through the first three rounds.
The task of completing the playoffs with a championship is a tall one.
The Avalanche face a Lightning team that has won back-to-back Stanley Cup championships. Tampa Bay’s road to the Final has been decidedly more difficult, having knocked off the Toronto Maple Leafs in seven games in the first round, then sweeping the Presidents’ Trophy winning Florida Panthers in the second round. They arrived back in the final after winning four straight games to knock off the New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference Final.
The series will start with the Avalanche as money line favourites at home in Game One. Not only is Colorado the favourite to win the series opener, but they are also the favourite to win this series, with odds at PlayNow.com of 1.50 compared to odds of 2.60 for Tampa Bay to win the series.
The Avalanche have rolled through this post-season, winning 12 of 14 games played so far and scoring on average 4.64 goals per game. They also possess the second-best power play in these playoffs, operating at 31.1% heading into the Final and led by super star defenceman Cale Makar and the always exhilarating Nathan MacKinnon.
Makar is currently favoured at PlayNow.com to lead this series in points, while MacKinnon is the favourite to lead this series in goals.
The Lightning, though, have certainly been gaining strength since their first-round series win over Toronto – arguably their toughest challenge of this post-season until now.
The X-Factor for this series could come down to goaltending.
The Lightning have arguably the best goalie in the game right now in Andrei Vasilevskiy, who enters this series with a .928 save percentage. He has been in this situation before, too, winning a Conn Smythe Trophy for his playoff performance on a championship Lightning team a year ago.
Vasilevskiy has odds at PlayNow.com of 5.00 to win the Conn Smythe Trophy. Cale Makar is the favourite to win the award, with odds of 2.80 at PlayNow.com, followed by his teammate Nathan MacKinnon at odds of 3.10.
Meanwhile, the Avalanche are going into this series with the goalie tandem of Darcy Kuemper and Pavel Francouz, and there is some uncertainly around the former heading into this series.
Kuemper suffered an upper-body injury in the Western Conference Final and did not return to the series. Francouz started the remaining three games in that series and was victorious in all games he played to help Colorado advance.
But Francouz remains something of an unproven wild card in these pressure-packed situations, with a .899 save percentage in 12 career playoff games. Kuemper was not exactly a picture of brilliance in these playoffs either, with a .897 save percentage.
Goaltending plays such a pivotal role in championship-winning teams, and the Lightning certainly have the edge there – at least on paper – going into this series.
At the heart of this series is a matchup between a team in the Avalanche that seems on the edge of greatness against a team in the Lightning that is on the verge of becoming an NHL dynasty.
And it all begins Wednesday.
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