Canadiens vs Lightning Game 1 Prediction
It is the most wonderful time of the year with the Stanley Cup Final upon us. The Montreal Canadiens with their magical underdog season will take on the machine that is the Tampa Bay Lightning for game one of the series tonight at 8 p.m. EST in Tampa, Fla.
Road To The Final
Ahead of this exciting matchup, it’s important to look back at how each team got here. For the Canadiens road to the finals, they took the series 4-3 over the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round after coming from behind 3-1. In the second round, the Canadiens swept the Winnipeg Jets 4-0 in a dominating fashion, showing they were motivated after their comeback. In the semifinals, the Canadiens came away 4-2 after a very close matchup against the Vegas Golden Knights.
The Tampa Bay Lightning also saw its fair share of fierce competition. The Lightning faced the Florida Panthers in round one, coming away with the 4-2 win. In round two, they took on the Carolina Hurricanes and easily moved on after a 4-1 victory. For the semifinals, it was a nail-biting series for the Lightning with New York winning the first game. The Islanders forced a game seven after an overtime 3-2 win in game six. The Lightning answered this with a shutout in game 7 to advance to the Stanley Cup Final.
Canadiens Keys To The Cup
Montreal is the underdog in this series, but they are used to that title at this point in the playoffs. They are also used to shattering that assumption. The Canadiens are riding a 13-2 record ever since their comeback against the Leafs. To add to that daunting statistic, they are 11-0 when they score at least twice. If Tampa Bay slips up at all, the Canadiens are going to skate away with it.
The Lightning’s offense is incredible however and, as they have shown in the playoffs, almost unbeatable. Luckily for the Canadiens, they have Carey Price in their net. With a 93.4 save percentage on attempted shots, Price is hot, to say the least. Price has an average of allowing about two goals per game in the playoffs, which is not bad but can be dangerous when facing a team like the Lightning.
On the power play, the Canadiens have not allowed a goal in 13-straight postseason games, which is a league record. Their defense is elite with a 93.5% clip.
Offensively, the Canadiens can play evenly but do not dominate the ice the way the Lightning do. Right now, the saving grace for the Canadiens in the goal-scoring department seems to be rookie Cole Caufield. The 20-year-old right-wing is coming into his playing style this postseason, having scored four goals in the series against the Golden Knights. If Caulfield continues his break-out performance, the Canadiens offensive power will be elevated in the final.
Lightnings Keys To The Cup
The favorites for many reasons, Tampa Bay easily has the ability to be the first team to win the Stanley Cup back-to-back since the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2017. The Lightning are offensive machines that have carried them this far in the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The Lightning has the best goal differential in the playoffs and are led by Nikita Kucherov and Brayden Point. Kucherov leads the NHL with 27 points in the playoffs and has garnered 22 assists in only 18 games. Point is dominating the field as well with 14 playoff goals. On the power play, the Lightning will be a tough matchup for the Canadiens’ defensive line. The Lightning has been able to score on 37.7% of power plays in the postseason.
What makes the Lightning such a threat is that they are also incredible on defense. Victor Hedman has been causing chaos for other teams as a defenceman with 15 assists. They have the best save percentage in the playoffs with a 0.936. Andrei Vasilevskiy has delivered four shutouts so far in the playoffs and has proven that he is one of the backbones of this Tampa team.
Canadiens vs Lightning Pick: Montreal Canadiens For Game One . . . And The Series
During the conference finals, I predicted that the Montreal Canadiens would be the 2021 Stanley Cup Winner and I stand by that decision. It will certainly be close because the Tampa Bay Lightning are what some would call a perfect hockey team with a loaded offense, defense and a goalie that is similar to a brick wall. However, walls eventually come down and I believe Montreal has the ability to be the ones to crack Vailevskiy. If Montreal are to be the champions, it will undoubtedly be a seven game series.
Montreal has it in their arsenal to take game one and start this series out strongly for the team. On paper, it looks like the Lightning will win; however, it’s the NHL Playoffs. Anything can happen.
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