The Action Network is providing NHL.com readers with odds and analysis for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Today, a look at Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final between the Montreal Canadiens and the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Canadiens at Lightning Stanley Cup Final Game 2 odds
Canadiens odds: +180
Lightning odds: -225
Time: 8 p.m. ET
Note: If you’re new to betting, the Lightning’s -225 odds mean a $225 bet would profit $100 if they win the game. Conversely, the Canadiens’ +180 odds mean a $100 bet would net $180. Convert odds using The Action Network’s Betting Odds Calculator.
Scoreboards can often be deceiving. One of the realities of betting on hockey (and all sports) is sometimes the better team doesn’t win. That was not the case in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final.
The Tampa Bay Lightning were, quite simply, a much better team than the Montreal Canadiens on Monday night. The overall numbers may suggest that Game 1 was closer than the scoreline suggested, but if you look at the gameflow, you’ll see that the Lightning did most of their damage in first 40 minutes before the Canadiens attempted to tilt the ice to play catch-up.
Through the first 40 minutes, the Lightning ran the show, recording seven high-danger scoring chances at 5-on-5 (per Natural Stat Trick) and holding Montreal to just three of its own. Heading into the third period with a one-goal lead, the Bolts went into shutdown mode, allowing just five shots on goal and four high-danger chances. Like we saw in the Game 7 victory over the Islanders, there’s a lot more to Lightning coach Jon Cooper’s team than the dynamic offense.
Montreal’s form coming into the Stanley Cup Final was undeniably good. All weekend we heard about how the Habs were not your run-of-the-mill Cinderella and that their success was legitimate. While that remains true, perhaps the pre-series hype surrounding the Canadiens led us to overrate them a little bit in this series. That may seem a bit odd considering Montreal was +200 (33.3% implied win probability) to win this series, but it’s worth remembering that just two weeks ago Montreal was a +400 underdog against the Vegas Golden Knights in a best-of-7 series.
This isn’t to say that Montreal doesn’t have a chance in this series — of course they do — nor am I arguing that the Canadiens are a bad bet for Game 2. Don’t forget the Lightning blew out the Islanders, 8-0, in Game 5 before losing Game 6 two nights later. It’s just more context as we head into a pivotal Game 2 at Amalie Arena.
Understandably, the Canadiens have seen their odds spike off their series-opening performance. Not only did the Habs lose and get outplayed, but they did so as a relatively popular underdog. The Action Network tracked over 23,600 bets on Game 1, and Montreal accounted for 52% of the tickets and 57% of the dollars. It wouldn’t be surprising to see the betting interest on Montreal cool off ahead of Game 2, which means that bookmakers can feel comfortable hanging the Habs at a bigger price.
You’ll often hear seasoned bettors warn against overreacting to small sample sizes. It’s advice worth heeding since teams will go up, down and side to side over the course of a season. And if you make your handicapping decisions based off those twists and turns, you’ll also be taken for a ride. But if you’re able to resist the temptation of getting caught up in the moment, you may be able to give yourself an edge by taking advantage of the market overcorrecting off of a handful of games.
After closing as +165 underdogs in Game 1, the Canadiens now find themselves at +180 for Game 2. That leaves bettors with a decision to make. Is the market overreacting to one game? Or is it possible that Montreal’s run of form over the last fortnight had us overrating their chances against an elite Tampa Bay team to begin with?
Michael Leboff covers the NHL and more at The Action Network — a sports media company that builds products and creates content to inform and entertain the sports bettor.