ALBERT VARTANIAN: Stanley Cup Final Best Bets
The Tampa Bay Lightning have been one of the top teams in the NHL over the past two seasons and now they take on the Colorado Avalanche, the best in the west. Tampa can become the first team since the 1983 New York Islanders to win the Stanley Cup three times. While the Avs can’t equal anything close to that, they can end a 21-year drought by lifting Lord Stanley’s oversized mug.
I can’t look past the Lightning when it comes to picking a winner in this series. I know the “experience” card is being played a lot and that’s because it’s a big factor. These guys have been in this position for the past two seasons and have come out on top. And let’s not forget Andrei Vasilevskiy, the biggest of big-game goaltenders in the league. He has six shutouts in Tampa’s last eight series-clinching games.
That said, I’m not dismissing this Colorado team because it is the real deal. The Avs were the pre-postseason favourite to win the Western Conference and they’ve walked to the finals. They swept two teams (Nashville, Edmonton), only lost twice and they’re undefeated on the road. The Avs will put up a serious fight and I won’t be surprised to see this series go the distance.
NUTS AND BOLTS
This will be a great series, but I can’t go against the two-time champs, especially at +140. I consider this a pick ‘em, and when that’s the case I side with the plus money. Not having home ice is a slight disadvantage for Tampa, but the reigning champs have shown they can get it done on the road when it matters. Their Game 5 win in New York led the Lightning to close out the last series in Florida where they’re 7-1 this postseason.
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- Tampa to win the series (+140)
- Tampa +1.5 games (-139) If you think this series goes to seven games then this is the bet for you.