About five months after the Tampa Bay Lightning shut out the Montreal Canadiens to win the Stanley Cup, the pair will reunite in the Bell Centre. The NHL odds strongly favor the Lightning (15-5-4) to dispatch the moribund Canadiens (6-17-3) who recently fired general manager Marc Bergevin.
Montreal’s run to the Stanley Cup Finals cost them everything as the team is injury-depleted with the brunt of its top players either injured or missing. Tampa Bay is also several key players short but, unlike Montreal, looks very much like a contender.
NHL Odds Preview
Tampa Bay Lightning vs Montreal Canadiens (7 p.m. ET)
- Puckline: Tampa Bay -1½ (+115), Montreal +1½ (-135)
- Moneyline: Tampa Bay -220, Montreal +180
- Total: Over 5½ (-105), Under 5½ (-115)
Lightning: Hitting Stride
After experiencing a bit of Stanley Cup hangover, the Lightning are now looking like the team that betting odds still have as a top-three contender. Tampa Bay has gone 13-2-3, which is the third-best point percentage in the league in this span.
The Lightning are allowing the third-fewest goals at just 2.1 per game, which is also its best average in the Jon Cooper era. While the defense has been solid, most of the credit goes to Andrei Vasilevskiy. He’s responsible for 27 of Tampa’s 34 points and is in the top six in most goalie metrics.
Vasilevskiy is once again the favorite to win the Vezina Trophy at +400. His 85.7 high danger save percentage is why Tampa Bay is neutralizing its opponents despite giving up 30 shots a game. Add balanced goal-scoring and this is why Tampa Bay is almost always chalked on the online sportsbook.
Canadiens: Year Off
The writing was on the wall for the Canadiens heading into this season. Captain and lead defenseman Shea Weber had season-ending surgery. Goaltender Carey Price indicated he was not mentally ready to compete. And the prized prospect, Cole Caufield, hit a massive rookie wall and got sent to the AHL.
Then the injuries started to pile up one after the other. Half the blue line is gone. Leading scorer Tyler Toffoli (upper-body injury) is out indefinitely while others like Mike Hoffman (upper body) and Brendan Gallagher (COVID) started missing time.
This storm of misfortune is not Bergevin’s fault. But his dismissal has been a long time coming for a franchise that has damn well-broken Price’s back by riding him hard every season. The good news is that the Habs could be the front-runners to land top prospect Shane Wright.
— Wanderer (@harditya94) December 1, 2021
Tampa Bay exposed Montreal in the Stanley Cup Finals. Maybe the Habs ran out of gas or the disparity in skill level was just too great for “heart and guts” to cover. But with these teams losing two lines’ worth of key players, the Lightning should make short work of Montreal.
Betting online on Tampa Bay at close to 2-1 may be valuable if thrown in a parlay. But we offer the puckline at +115 instead. The Lightning have cashed their last three pucklines as favorites while five of Montreal’s last eight losses were by two or more goals.
Pick: Tampa Bay Lightning -1½ goals (+115)
This one can get ugly. Tampa Bay may just drop five goals on Montreal by itself. Seven of its 11 road games have gone over and four of Montreal’s last six against Eastern Conference opponents have as well.
Pick: Total – Over 5½ (-105)