- After eliminating the Boston Bruins in five games, the Tampa Bay Lightning are the first team to advance to a conference final.
- They now sit second in Stanley Cup odds, only behind the Golden Knights.
- Do they have what it takes to take home the championship? Find out here.
The Tampa Bay Lightning walked into the NHL’s playoff bubble with something to prove after last year’s disastrous first round exit in four straight games.
So far, their two series victories have made believers out of the oddsmakers. Tampa began the second round at +625 odds to take home the championship. But productive play from top to bottom has vaulted them to +195 in Stanley Cup odds, only trailing the Vegas Golden Knights.
Stanley Cup Odds
|Team||Stanley Cup Odds at DraftKings|
|Vegas Golden Knights||+180|
|Tampa Bay Lightning||+195|
|New York Islanders||+485|
Odds from Sept. 1
This comes as the Lightning became the first team to advance to a conference final with a 3-2 double-overtime win over the Boston Bruins Monday night in Toronto.
One of the reasons for the sharp jump in Tampa’s odds is their quick dispatch of the Bruins – long one of the NHL’s playoff powerhouses. Boston’s star power in Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak pushed them to Game 7 of last year’s Stanley Cup final, and they were the only team to reach 100 points in the pandemic-shortened 2019-20 season.
Not only did they drop the Bruins, but they did it in five decisive games that saw some of Tampa’s stars shine.
Point and Vasilevskiy Leading the Way for Tampa Bay
If you’re looking for major reasons for the Lightning’s quick ascent, look no further than the leading Conn Smythe odds, which feature Brayden Point (+350) and Andrei Vasilevskiy (+550) as the two favorites.
Point, who leads the Lightning in playoff scoring with 18 points, has also notched two overtime winners in the playoffs. He had been effective even strength for the duration of the playoffs but has ratcheted up the point production in the second round. The Calgary native was on the scoresheet in each of the five Bruins games, including a three-point performance in Game 3 on August 26.
Goalie shot maps are updated
Vasilevskiy can be misleading — his regular season work is often just fine, not great, and TBL limits the work he faces so well.
— Sean Tierney (@ChartingHockey) September 1, 2020
For all the goaltending controversies across the league, netminder chatter in Tampa Bay has been noticeably absent. Vasilevskiy has been dependable between the pipes, leaving no doubt that he is the man to lead the Lightning into the later rounds of the playoffs.
Of the remaining starting goaltenders in the playoffs, only New York’s Semyon Varlamov has a better save percentage than Vasilevskiy. He sits tied with Carter Hart at .931 and leads all playoff goaltenders with 10 wins.
His goals-against average has slowly crept down too – after being at 2.29 at the end of the qualifying round, Vasilevskiy has dropped it to a respectable 1.91.
Potent Power Play Wakes Up in the Second Round
Heading into the aforementioned Game 3, the series with Boston was tied and Tampa Bay’s power play had not been successful in its last 16 attempts. But that changed when they went three-for-six on the man advantage in a 7-1 rout of Boston.
That game ultimately held as the turning point of the series, and the Lightning benefited from a proper power play from then on.
Ondrej Palat and Nikita Kucherov both got in on the scoring – Palat having all five of his playoff goals in the last four games (including Game 2’s overtime winner). Kucherov has been more consistent. The NHL’s reigning MVP is fourth in Conn Smythe odds with his 16 points thus far, and he also has contributed in the defensive end of the ice.
— 𝙼𝚊𝚛𝚒 𝙵𝚊𝚒𝚎𝚕𝚕𝚘 (wears a mask) (@faiello_mari) August 27, 2020
Lightning the Best Pick to Win the Cup
After exercising some first round demons in the form of the Columbus Blue Jackets, Tampa has been one of the more consistent teams in the playoffs. They’ve only lost once in their last seven contests, and their early disposal of the veteran Boston Bruins has them developing some serious momentum heading into the final two rounds.
If bettors are looking for the best value in their Stanley Cup pick, the Lightning are the way to go.
Pick: Tampa Bay Lightning (+195)
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