The 2020 NHL Playoffs are coming to an end with the 2020 Stanley Cup Final that starts Saturday, September 19, at Rogers Place in Edmonton. In the next two weeks, we’ll see a tremendous battle between the two conference champions with plenty of picks and markets to choose from.
The Tampa Bay Lightning are coming from the East, looking for their second championship in franchise history. From the West, we have another one-time champ, the Dallas Stars, while both teams appear in the Stanley Cup Final for the third time.
We’re bringing you all need-to-know betting tips for the opening contest along with the best Stars versus Lightning betting pick, so let’s take a closer look.
The Stars are without goalie Ben Bishop, defenseman Stephen Johns, and center Radek Faksa. Both Johns and Faksa haven’t practiced with the team for a while, but Bishop could be available at some point in the final series.
On the other side, the Lightning are still missing center Steven Stamkos, as their captain hasn’t played this postseason. They hope Stamkos will return soon, but he remains of the shelf Saturday, for sure. Defenseman Jan Rutta is also sidelined.
The Lightning opened as -150 favorites to win Game 1 straight up on DraftKings, while the Stars are listed as +135 underdogs. The totals are set at 5.0 goals with the over at -125 odds and the under at +115.
Tampa is a -185 fave to win the championship on BetAmerica, while Dallas is listed as a +165 out-of-towner.
What’s at Stake?
The Lightning have won the opener twice over the previous three rounds, as well as the Stars, so both sides know there’s a lot of hockey to be played. Anyway, it’s always nice to start on the right foot, especially on the biggest stage.
The Stars needed five games to upset the Vegas Golden Knights in the Western Conference Finals, while they played all seven in the second-round clash against the Colorado Avalanche. They’ve been underdogs on both occasions, so the Stars certainly believe they can go all the way.
On the other side, the Lightning beat the New York Islanders in the Eastern Conference Finals in six games. They’ve been a strong fave to win the championship since the start of the postseason, but the Lightning have outlasted some tough teams along the way including the reigning vice-champs Boston Bruins in five games.
Both these teams lean on their tough defense and some exceptional goaltending. Still, the Stars met a couple of attacking-minded teams in Colorado and Vegas, while all three Tampa’s opponents were typical defensive-minded teams.
The Lightning’ offense is undoubtedly better than the Stars’ frontline, but Dallas possesses some very dangerous forwards, too. Also, the Stars like to sit deep and defend while waiting for their chances through counter-attacks.
Anton Khudobin will guard the cage for the Stars in Game 1, and the 34-year-old Russian is 12-6 on the postseason. He has a 2.62 GAA and a .920 save percentage, and Khudobin was a true defensive rock for the Stars, particularly in the conference finals.
Khudobin allowed the Golden Knights to score only eight goals in five games.
On the other side, Andrei Vasilevskiy will patrol the crease for the Lightning, and the 26-year-old Russian is 14-5 with a 1.82 GAA and a .931 save percentage. His stat line speaks for itself, but Vasilevskiy has been performing at the highest level all season long.
Andrei went 35-14-3 with a 2.56 GAA this past regular season. Over his previous three outings, Vasilevskiy has allowed only four goals on 78 shots.
Brayden Point and Nikita Kucherov will lead the way for the Lightning after combining for 15 goals and 36 assists this postseason. Point missed a couple of games in the conference finals due to an injury, and the Lightning lost both times, so his presence will be essential for Tampa.
The Stars will lean on Jamie Benn, who’s scored eight goals along 10 assists thus far, while Denis Gurianov and Alexander Radulov combined for 17 goals and 14 assists. Defenseman Miro Heiskanen has five goals and 17 assists in 21 postseason outings.
We’ve seen some firecrackers over the last few weeks even when everybody expected low-scoring affairs. However, both Tampa and Dallas love to be physical, and if Khudobin and Vasilevskiy continue with their show between the pipes, this game won’t see more than five goals in the total.
I would stay away from the side bet even though I fancy this Lightning team. Dallas won both regular-season encounters, beating Tampa 4-3 in overtime as a +145 dog and 3-2 as a +115 home dog, but the Lightning are 10-6 over their last 16 meetings with the Stars.
Interestingly, the over is 14-3-1 in the previous 18 matchups between Tampa and Dallas.