It looks like the road to a Lightning three-peat won’t be as easy as Tampa Bay hoped for.
After an overtime loss in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final, the Lighting looked as though they had a chance of evening the series in Game 2. Colorado finished the series opener with a 17-4 turnover advantage,15 more shots on goal and won the power play battle. If Tampa could clean up its game in those departments, it could keep it close again in Game 2 or potentially win, right?
Well, the Bolts didn’t do any of the above. A 7-0 win for the Avs puts Colorado up 2-0 in the series with championship odds now around -600, over four dollars higher than where the club opened at (-180). Don’t play the Avs at -600. Not only is it a bad bet because you are risking $600 to win $100, but in early May, you could have got them as favorites at +230. Don’t chase a bad number.
Luckily, there are plenty of options if you still want to have some skin on the heavy favorites, at much better value. FanDuel bookmakers have set the following prices for the “Exact Series Price.”
COL 4 TB 1 +225
COL 4 TB 0 +285
COL 4 TB 2 +420
COL 4 TB 3 +570
TB 4 COL 3 +790
TB 4 COL 2 +1260
According to those numbers, bookmakers believe the most likely outcome is for the Avalanche to win via a “gentleman’s sweep” (4-1). A true sweep isn’t far off, though. It’s worth noting that while these are plus-money plays, you technically aren’t getting the “best number” because the series opened with Colorado in 4 at +820. But you can’t turn back time, so if you want to bet the Avs, you’re better off saving yourself juice on the series price and betting one of the exact results.
You could also just bet Colorado to win Game 3. Despite the Avs being massive series favorites, you are getting -110 odds on the money line for Game 3 at Amalie. You’re risking $110 to win $100.
Betting periods and puck lines also are options. If you think Game 3 will see another blowout, you can bet Colorado to win by at least two goals on the full-game puck line, which is Avalanche -1.5 (+220). You can also bet the Avs’ first-period puckline of -0.5 (+182). However, I suggest betting “First Period Result” on FanDuel instead. This is essentially the same bet as the first-period puck line, but you’re getting a few cents better value at +184. It sounds silly but it’s all about line shopping. You want to be getting the best number.
Let’s say you don’t want to bet on Colorado and you have faith that Tampa Bay comes home in Games 3 and 4 and turns this series around. You’re in luck. You have plenty of plus-money options with the big underdog now. If you like the Bolts to simply win the Cup, grab them at +500 because one win will bring that price back down.
What’s my opinion? Well, it’s impressive for Tampa Bay to even be in this position three years in a row and it does have an advantage with Andrei Vasilevskiy in net. He posted 1.90 goals against averages in each of the past two postseasons. Vasilevskiy came into this series with a .928 save percentage in these playoffs versus Darcy Kuemper’s .897. Still, the Avalanche have dominated the first two games. There’s no doubt Kuemper has stepped up big, but he’s also backed by not only a wildly talented team, but a deeper roster. I think it’s the Avs’ time. I also said that before the series started, though, so you know I won’t be suggesting their series price now at -600.
Still, we’ve already seen the Lightning claw their way back after facing a 2-0 series deficit. Plus, it feels dangerous to bet against Vasilevskiy and company even if Colorado does look like the better team. That being said, I won’t put money on Tampa, but I do think we will see a better showing from the two-time defending champs. The Avs won’t have another 60-28 shot attempt advantage like they did in Game 2. I think it’s worth taking a look at shots on goal and goalie props. Surely the lack of Lightning shots on goal has contributed to bookmakers bringing Kuemper’s saves prop down to 27.5 from 28.5 in Game 1, compared to Vasilevkiy’s 32.5. Bookmakers have also set the Lightning’s postseason shots on goal leader, Nikita Kucherov, shots on goal at 3.5, priced +128 to the over. He’s averaged 3.75 shots on goal per game this postseason outside of Games 1 and 2 of the Final. It’s entirely possible the Lightning continue to struggle to get pucks on net in Game 3, but I’m betting against it.
Remember, a lot of these are considered “value” plays. As always, keep your bankroll in mind and bet responsibly.
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