The Tampa Bay Lightning were able to shut out the Detroit Red Wings last night in a winner take all game 7 to close up the first round. With that win the Lightning have booked a second round meeting with the Montreal Canadiens, who were able to squeak by the Ottawa Senators in round 1.
I see this series as a very interesting match-up that is about as close as they can come and the oddsmakers agree with me. The Canadiens are ever so slight favourite over Tampa Bay heading into this series.
Here are the best odds for each team I could find online:
I give the Canadiens the edge in goal because Carey Price likely is the best goaltender on the planet. He was actually probably outplayed in the first round by Craig Anderson of the Senators, but he made the saves when they mattered (or got the calls) and he ended up finishing the Sens with a shutout in game 6. This was actually the only time the Senators were shutout all season so that in itself is quite the feat. So edge to the Habs in goal.
That’s really the only place I see the Habs having the edge though.
The Lightning definitely have a more potent offense than the Canadiens. Tampa Bay scored 262 goals in the regular season to lead the league in that department by a 10 goal spread over the New York Rangers who finished with 252 goals. The Habs only scored 221 goals and they haven’t exactly been firing on all cylinders of late, only scoring 8 goals in the last 5 games of the series against the Lightning. Tampa Bay didn’t exactly pile the goals on against the Red Wings, but they did finish the 7 game series with 17 goals and that includes being shut out in 2 games. This also includes Steven Stamkos being almost completely snake bitten throughout the series. I don’t expect that to continue.
On defense you’d think the edge would go to the Habs, but I don’t see it that way. I think the main reason the Habs keep the pucks out of their net so often is because of Carey Price. I also give the edge of best defenseman on both teams to Victor Hedman, who has played great everywhere on the ice these playoffs, over PK Subban who still can try to do too much on occasion.
Jeff Petry was a nice addition to the Canadiens back end, but just looking at the players I would still take Hedman, Stralman, Garrison, Coburn and Carle over the core of the Canadiens.
So this basically comes down to whether Carey Price can steal this series for the Habs. I think he’s definitely capable, but I think the smart money is on the Lightning in this series.
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