It all comes down to this. A seven-game series between the Stars and the Lightning, deciding who will hoist the Stanley Cup as NHL champions. There were 24 teams when the NHL’s Return to Play tournament began, and now only two combatants remain.
Dallas (+1700) was a mid-grade longshot to win the Stanley Cup in preseason ratings, while Tampa Bay (+675) projected better odds. Now, NHL Series Odds lists the Stars (+170) as understandable underdogs to the Lightning (-200) in the Finals. Dallas has proven to be a very dangerous team in 2019-20, and Tampa Bay is in for a real fight.
Stars vs Lightning: Stanley Cup Finals Schedule
Saturday, Sept. 19. – Stars vs Lightning, 7:30 p.m. ET- NBC
Monday, Sept. 21 – Stars vs Lightning, 8 p.m ET – NBCSN
Wednesday, Sept. 23 – Lightning vs Stars, 8 p.m. ET – NBCSN
Friday, Sept. 25 – Lightning vs Stars, 8 p.m. ET – NBC
*Saturday, Sept. 26 – Stars vs Lightning, 8 p.m. ET – NBC
*Monday, Sept. 28 – Lightning vs Stars, 8 p.m. ET – NBC
*Wednesday, Sept. 19 – Stars vs Lightning, 8 p.m. ET – NBC
Stars vs Lightning: Stanley Cup Finals Game 1 Betting Odds
It was a similar story on Jan. 27 at American Airlines Arena, except Ben Bishop was in goal for Dallas, and it was Tampa Bay that scored late in the third period to tie the game. The Lightning tied the game at two goals apiece on a Steven Stamkos one-timer with 1:26 left in regulation. Tampa had pulled Vasilevskiy to send out another attacker, and it paid off.
Vasilevskiy was back between the pipes in overtime when Dallas captain Jamie Benn stole the puck to score the winner. Benn made a heads-up play to poke the puck away from Brayden Point right in Tampa’s end, then knifed in. Vasilevskiy didn’t stand much of a chance, and Benn’s nifty move ended the game 3-2 with 2:53 left in OT.
Dallas goalie Anton Khudobin has been clutch for the Stars this postseason. Now Khudobin has a chance to shine on the biggest NHL stage. Khudobin is 12-6 with a 2.62 GAA and a .920 save percentage in the 2019-20 playoffs. The Russian netminder is 1-0 this season when facing his fellow countryman, Andrei Vasilevskiy.
Andrei Vasilevskiy is young and at the top of his game, thirsty to drink from the Stanley Cup. Vasilevskiy is 14-5, sporting a miserly 1.87 GAA and a .930 SV% during the NHL’s Return to Play. The reigning Vezina Trophy winner lost both head-to-head matchups with the Stars this season, but the games were oh-so-close. Can Vasilevskiy elevate his game even higher vs. the Stars, exorcising Tampa Bay’s Cup demons from 2015?
To Win Series Odds
Dallas Stars +170
Tampa Bay Lightning -200
Prediction: Tampa Bay Lightning in 7
The Lightning may very well win in six, but the Dallas Stars have been shining too brightly to sell them short. Expect an intense and electric series with a baffling number of lead changes and several overtimes. Hopefully, scoring machine and Lightning captain Steven Stamkos, will find a way to suit up for Tampa before Game 7. Even if Stamkos is ultimately unavailable to play in the series, Tampa Bay’s offense is a powerhouse.
Lightning strikes the opposing goal an average of 3.11 times per game, good enough for third-best of all NHL Bubble participants. The Stars have averaged 2.95 goals per game this postseason, playing well above their season average. Offensively, Dallas has been playing over their heads all postseason, and it’s unlikely to continue forever.
Both teams have an excellent defense and strong goaltending. Dallas holds a slight advantage defensively, while Tampa Bay wins the war of goalies. Khudobin is the lynchpin here, and the expectation is that he’ll crumble underneath the relentless Lightning assault. Once Khudobin gets pulled for poor performance (Game 2 perhaps?), his confidence will be forever gone from this series. Vasilevskiy wins the Russian civil war, and Tampa Bay hoists the Cup for the first time since 2004.