Odds taken from DraftKings Sportsbook.
The Stanley Cup playoffs gave us everything we could’ve asked for and now for the league’s final act, we get a gem of a final matchup. The Montreal Canadiens have defied the odds for the past few months going from the lowest seed in the North Division to the Western Conference champion. They now have a chance to pull off the absolute unthinkable and not only boot out the defending Stanley Cup champions but win the whole darn thing. A hot start Monday will be key, but for these Habs, they’ve proven that even a slow start could be meaningless.
Well, we like the Tampa Bay Lightning to jump out to an early lead for a few reasons. The Habs have scored eight and given up as just as many through their three game ones thus far. They’re also 2-1 in series openers, while the Bolts are 6-2-1 on home ice in these playoffs in general and have posted two shutouts through their past three tilts. Yes, the stat categories we’ve chosen are a little random, but they’re the most relevant to Monday night’s action. Then, on top of all of that, the Habs will be without Joel Armia – who’s currently tied for fourth in scoring on the team.
The best odds for this match
Odds provided by DraftKings Sportsbook
|Montreal Canadiens vs Tampa Bay Lightning Game Information|
|Who||Montreal vs Tampa Bay|
|Where||Amalie Arena, Tampa, Florida|
|When||June 28, 2021 8:00pm EST|
|How to watch||NBC Sports, Sportsnet|
The Tampa Bay Lightning have a huge leg up entering this series. Not only because they’re the superior team in basically every category, but because the Montreal Canadiens will be without one of their best scorers in game one. Right-winger Joel Armia, as mentioned, will be out of the lineup for game one and two as he is currently in COVID-19 protocol.
Head coach Domenic Ducharme hasn’t been with the club since game three of the Vegas series as he also dealt with the virus. Although he’s expected to return, Armia seems to have now contracted it and the timing couldn’t be any worse for Montreal.
The loss of Armia hurts, but the addition of their head coach behind the bench will be a nice boost for these pesky Habs. Ducharme entered the fold as the interim head coach following the firings of Claude Julien and Kirk Muller in February. Since then he’s taken this team on a magical playoff run.
His coaching record after taking over was a measly 15-16-5 through the regular season, which is pretty rough on paper. However, once these playoffs kicked in, what he’s been able to do has been nothing short of miraculous.
The Habs were counted out and stunned all of Canada in game one of the quarterfinals by upsetting the North Division‘s favorite Toronto Maple Leafs. They then overcame a 3-1 series deficit to knock off Toronto. A quick sweep of the Winnipeg Jets was in the cards shortly after as they cruised the semis. They then blitzed the Golden Knights after dropping game one by an overpowering 4-1 Vegas scoreboard. These Habs have been counted out every step of the way, but are on the verge of completing the impossible here. They’re four wins away from one of the most improbable runs in NHL history and if that’s not inspiring, we don’t know what is.
Excluding an 8-0 win in game five of the last series, these Bolts have never truly looked like the reigning champs they are. Lo and behold, they now once again have work to do to re-establish their brand as the defending top dogs, but do have a huge leg up this time around.
Let’s be honest here, the Islanders winning three games in that conference final wasn’t unbelievable. These Bolts have shown some deficiencies and the Isles had a pretty solid year all things considered. The Habs will now offer a much better matchup for Tampa.
The Lightning are all offense and the Canadiens allow a lot of just that. Tampa will face a hot Carey Price, but even that can be overcome with strong puck movement. They’ve shown all year that their puck movement is among the best in the league and if they can get Price going side-to-side often, they stand a great shot in this one and that’ll be the key to victory for them.
As of the writing of this article, 67% of all money line bettors are taking Tampa Bay. Montreal has lost all four of their last matchups with Tampa. They’re also 0-6 through their last six on the road in T-Bay. Head-to-head, it’s also important to note that the favorite has been victorious in 14 of the last 17.
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Ryan has worked as a sports writer for the past decade and sports journalism for almost 15 years. He has worked in television, radio, print, digital, and podcasting since 2006. He is also the former co-host of the NFL Weekly Pick 'Em and Best Bets Podcast along with the Prop Drop on WSN.com.More info on Ryan Sullivan
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