Nearly 40 years ago, the New York Islanders won their fourth straight Stanley Cup at the expense of the Edmonton Oilers. This was a star-studded Stanley Cup Finals filled with a dozen Hall of Famers including “The Great One” himself, Wayne Gretzky. Flash forward to today and we have a similar scenario as the Tampa Bay Lightning go for their third straight Stanley Cup against the betting favorites, the Colorado Avalanche.
Lightning vs Avalanche Series Info
The Lightning are Approaching Legendary Status
After the Islanders won their fourth and final Stanley Cup, the first thing they did back in the locker room was to mend their injuries. This is what it takes to win four straight championships in the NHL, a feat that has never been done since. The Lightning have sacrificed a lot as their plethora of injuries attest. But they’re back in the Stanley Cup Finals.
The NHL Final’ series odds peg Tampa Bay as the underdog for the first time. Dallas was a well-rounded team, and Montreal had a shutdown defense. But the Lightning has not faced a scoring juggernaut quite like the Avalanche. Tampa Bay can score if it needs to though, its strength lies in its defense and goaltending.
The Lightning has allowed the fewest goals among teams that advanced past the first round of the playoffs. Much of the credit goes to goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy though the likes of Anthony Cirelli and Jan Rutta also deserve plenty of praise. Tampa Bay’s dynasty has been built off their depth hence why this team can’t be underestimated on these NHL betting odds previews.
Avalanche Want This to Be Their Time
This 2022 Avalanche team has similarities with the 1983 Oilers. Both teams tore through their respective conferences. Edmonton lost just once. Colorado, just twice. They both have seemingly unstoppable offenses led by superstar combos of Gretzky and Jari Kurri and Nathan MacKinnon and Cale Makar. But the Oilers lost. The Islanders humbled this soon-to-be-dynasty. Colorado looks to deviate from this.
The Avalanche have not reached the Stanley Cup Finals on scoring alone. This is a team that has endured enough heartbreaks in the past and has had to neutralize two of the hottest offenses in its conference. Colorado also endured Connor McDavid’s onslaught who has set a scoring pace unseen since the days of Mario Lemieux.
Colorado is the favorite because it has scoring depth across every line. And despite some shaky net minding, Colorado has allowed the fewest scoring chances from its opponents. The team is unbeaten on the road and consistently dominates puck possession. The team may have an experience disadvantage against the two-time defending champions, but it is arguably much more talented.
Conn Smythe Watch: The Contenders
The Lightning and Avalanche have nearly a dozen players worthy of being mentioned for the Conn Smyth Trophy, the Stanley Cup Playoffs MVP. The prohibitive favorite right now (+175) is Colorado’s Cale Makar, who edges teammate MacKinnon (+200).
The defenseman has been on a tear with 22 points to lead the team, though MacKinnon has the most goals with 11. Odds expect MacKinnon to lead the Finals in both goals and points. If Makar wins, he would be the 12th defenseman to capture the award joining Tampa’s Victor Hedman.
Hedman, the 2020 winner, is a longshot to win at 20-1. If he puts on a strong performance here and helps neutralize Makar and co., he may still get votes. But his team’s favorite is a tie (+400) between Nikita Kucherov and the aforementioned Vasilevskiy.
Kucherov leads the Lightning in scoring by a significant margin and is tied with MacKinnon on the odds to be the leading point-getter in the Finals. Vasilevskiy has kept an undeniable stat in series-clinching games: a 98% save percentage.
Stanley Cup Finals Betting Trends and Trivia
The Avalanche are the betting favorites to win Game 1. They opened at -170 though action has been on the other side thus betting them up a little.
The Stanley Cup Finals odds have the series going six or seven games. The favorite is for Colorado to win in six games or in seven. A sweep from the Lightning is the least expected outcome paying over 20-1.
Series favorites have won the Stanley Cup Finals in five of the last six seasons. Washington was the only underdog to win by upsetting Vegas in 2018. They are one of only two teams in this span to win the Stanley Cup without a home-ice advantage (Chicago was the other one in 2015 over Tampa).