Tampa Bay Lightning Vs. Montreal Canadiens
Market WatchSportsbooks are basically making this series a 'pick em', even though the Lightning are coming off an emotional 7 game series and must now defeat the Canadiens without home ice advantage. I still say this is good value for Tampa Bay. There is no doubt who the better team is in this matchup.
Bottom LineLast year Tampa had no choice but to go with Lindback in goal and promptly got swept by the Habs. This year they not only have better goaltending, but they have a healthy Stamkos, and added key pieces for a long playoff run (Coburn, Garrison, Stralman, Boyle, etc).
Every time the Bolts played the Habs this year they played with a chip on their shoulders and beat them each and every game (5-0). You can be sure that they'll have that same burning pride in this series to do against Montreal what they couldn't last year.
Even when Stamkos wasn't producing in round 1, he tied up the best matchup that Babcock could put on the ice. The Habs aren't as equipped to deal with Tampa's depth, because who is left to deal with the Palat-Johnson-Kucherov line? Or do the Habs treat that as the #1 line and let the chips fall where they may with Stamkos?
Either way Montreal is in trouble. Expect them to be outshot in every game as this is a clear possession mismatch. The only obvious x-factor is Carey Price. There's no question that he'll likely outplay Bishop, but more importantly, will that be enough? For me, it's a resounding no. Tampa were my cup pick to start the season, and I'm not changing that now.
Pick: Lightning (-104) (2u)