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Tampa Bay Lightning at Colorado Avalanche Game 1 Betting Preview

Fans in New York and Edmonton may disagree, but the 2022 Stanley Cup Finals features arguably the perfect matchup. The Colorado Avalanche have been one of the best regular-season teams of the past two seasons, but the Tampa Bay Lightning have turned things on when it counts, hoisting the Cup the last two years.

Rust – and not rest – could be the main factor in Game 1 as the Avs’ haven’t taken the ice in nine days following their sweep of the Oilers, while the Lightning have rhythm but also a couple of extra days off after taking out the Rangers in six games. Colorado is a hefty-155 favorite at home on Wednesday night.

Vasilevskiy In the Zone for TB

It was looking like the NHL was going to get a big market team in the Stanley Cup Finals after New York raced out to a 2-0 series lead in the Conference Finals. As champions are apt to do, though, the Lightning did not panic and instead rattled off four straight wins to advance to yet another Finals appearance.

The biggest key to the Conference Finals turnaround was goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy who looked shaky in giving up six goals in Game 1 but stepped up in allowing just five total over the last four games of the series.

Vasilevskiy definitely has a test against Colorado’s #4 scoring offense, but at the same time, the Lightning attack gets a bit of a break. New York’s Igor Shesterkin is the odds-on favorite to win the Vezina Trophy as the league’s top goaltender this season, while the Avs’ have had to use their backup to advance.

Return to the Big Stage

Colorado has been one of the Stanley Cup favorites for a couple of years now but have had second-round exits for three straight years now. If the Avalanche can knock out the Lightning, they can hold up the Stanley Cup for the first time since 2001.

Vasilevskiy is a stalwart in the net for Tampa Bay, but if you asked the veteran off the record, even he would say facing this Avalanche offense is a concern. Nathan Mackinnon had three goals and two assists in the series vs. Edmonton; Gabriel Landeskog added two scores and four helpers, while Mikko Rantanen found the back of the net in all four games of the sweep.

The Avalanche lost starting goaltender Darcy Kuemper in the first game of the Conference Finals, but Pavel Francouz stepped in to finish off the sweep. He allowed ten goals in four games, but that’s also against an Edmonton team that features the top two scorers in the NHL in Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl.

Lightning/Avalanche Betting Prediction

There’s definitely some value on Tampa Bay at +135 here as the 2X defending champions and with Colorado having an abnormally long layoff in the postseason of nine days.

The consensus of bettors is still on the Avalanche at home, where they are 5-2 in the playoffs, but any time you can get the Lightning as underdogs in the postseason, you take it.

Pick: Lightning +130

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