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Stanley Cup Final Game 2 Betting Picks: Our Favorite Bets for Lightning vs. Stars (Monday, Sept. 21)

Stanley Cup Final Game 2 Betting Picks: Our Favorite Bets for Lightning vs. Stars (Monday, Sept. 21) article feature image

Bruce Bennett/Getty Images. Pictured: Ryan McDonagh, Joe Pavelski

The Dallas Stars did their thing in Game 1. The Stars kept the Lightning to the outside, received great goaltending from Anton Khudobin and took advantage of their scoring chances en route to a 4-1 win as +138 underdogs.

The Stars have snuck up on two of the NHL’s best teams already this postseason — are they on their way to doing it again?

Here are our favorite bets for Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final:

Sam Hitchcock: Under 5 Goals (+114)

  • Odds available at DraftKings [Bet Now]
  • Puck Drop: 8 p.m. ET

To avoid a nearly insurmountable 0-2 series deficit to the Dallas Stars, the Tampa Bay Lightning need to clean up their sloppiness. The amount of discipline and focus required is like that mandated for someone moving from a dorm room to a monastery.

Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov trying to cherry-pick while Stars defenseman Jamie Oleksiak is homing in on Andrei Vasilevskiy for an eventual goal won’t cut it. Zach Bogosian forsaking his defensive responsibilities to shove Joel Kiviranta while Dallas sets up a goal isn’t advisable. Yet even with moments of wayward behavior and an unfavorable scoreboard, the Lightning demonstrated incremental progress by period in Game 1.

Tampa Bay stunk in the first period, improved in the second, and dominated the final frame, in which it outshot Dallas 14-1 at 5-on-5 and had a 96.67% expected goals. Of course, it is possible that since they were ahead by two goals, the Stars may have been sitting back and trying to protect their lead in the last period.

One of the most encouraging signs for Tampa Bay from Game 1 is how well the Tyler Johnson line played. The Lightning’s second line finished with eight shots at 5-on-5 while surrendering none. It also finished with a 94.63% expected goals and did the best job of any Lightning line at forechecking. Against the Joe Pavelski line, this line managed to utilize the cycle to get shots in the low slot.

Getting the Johnson line going could be a bit like finding the lower-left panel of the Adoration of the Mystic Lamb by the Van Eyck brothers. It could solve everything. Since Game 1 of the Columbus series, the Johnson line has scored one goal (!) while allowing four at 5-on-5. It has a 51.95% expected goals in that span of 16 games. The Lightning’s voyage to the Cup has been propelled by the Brayden Point and Yanni Gourde lines, while the second line has stagnated.

Assuming the Point and Gourde lines snap back in Game 2 after bumpy performances Saturday night, it seems plausible Monday’s contest could mirror the five games of the Vegas series where the Stars weathered a barrage of shots but few goals were tallied.

The reason: Stars goaltender Anton Khudobin is infallible. My prediction is that Vasilevskiy will match Khudobin in Game 2 as audiences witness a 2-1 white-knuckler. Instead of picking a winner, I’ll happily grab the under.

[Bet the Lightning-Stars under at DraftKings and get a $1,000 bonus, including a $500 risk-free bet]

Pete Truszkowski: Tampa Bay Lightning (-143)

  • Odds available at DraftKings [Bet Now]

I hate betting favorites in hockey, but sometimes you must be willing to eat the juice. Going into this series, I gave the Tampa Bay Lightning about a 65% chance of winning the Stanley Cup over the Dallas Stars. After Dallas took Game 1, this next game approaches must-win territory for the Lightning.

I never expected the Stars to get swept in this series, and if we’re looking at the schedule, Game 1 was a game you could have realistically expected Dallas to win. Dallas eliminated Vegas last Monday night and was given the luxury of rest as it waited for the Lightning to eliminate the New York Islanders on Thursday night. Not only did the Lightning play an extra game, but the last two games of that series were heavy and grinding overtime games. Dallas had the advantage with the schedule and took advantage.

In NHL history, only 51 of over 381 teams that went down 2-0 in a best=of-seven series came back to win the series. That’s 13.4%, and it doesn’t line up with the 65% chance I gave Tampa Bay at the start of the series. If I’m accurate in expecting Tampa Bay to win the Cup, it’s imperative they don’t go down two games.

Game 1 wasn’t as lopsided as the 4-1 scoreline represents. In fact, even when you adjust for score and venue effects (Tampa Bay is the defacto home team in this series), the Lightning had 57% of the shot attempts and 53% of the expected goals at 5-on-5. Tampa Bay outshot Dallas 36-20, but Anton Khudobin was extremely good. Andrei Vasilevskiy will not be beaten three times on 19 shots often.

Tampa Bay was -160 favorites prior to Game 1, and the result of that game has made it a much more affordable -143 at DraftKings for Game 2. The implied probability for a Lightning win at that line is 58.8%, and I think Tampa evens the series about 60% of the time. Dallas isn’t bad, but it’s hard not to consider the Lightning the better team in this series.

[Bet the Lightning moneyline at DraftKings and get a $1,000 bonus, including a $500 risk-free bet]

Michael Leboff: Blake Coleman to Score First Goal (+2400)

  • Odds available at DraftKings [Bet Now]

The odds for Game 2 look pretty tight as of Monday morning, but I’d like to have action on this game, so I’m going to throw a small bet on Blake Coleman to nab the game’s first goal.

Even though this market is impossible to predict, it’s a lot of fun, and if you get lucky, you can make as much money in 10 minutes as you would if you bet on a team like the Seahawks to win the Super Bowl.

You can make an argument for basically anybody in a volatile market like this, but I like to keep a shortlist for each team when betting this prop.

Most of the time I end up on a defenseman who gets power-play minutes or a big-bodied forward who spends a lot of time in front of the net. But the scoring defensemen in this series are listed at shorter odds than usual and only Joe Pavelski’s odds really interest me in terms of the net-front guys.

Instead, I landed on the smooth-skating Coleman. The middle-six winger for the Lightning has, along with linemates Yanni Gourde and Barclay Goodrow, spent a lot of time in the offensive zone this postseason. Tampa’s third line has regularly been above 60% in terms of expected goals, meaning when it’s out there, it’s getting the majority of the scoring chances.

Coleman’s speed and ability to score on the rush make him a threat to score anytime he’s on the ice, so I’m happy to throw some for-fun money on him to nab the game’s opening goal.

[Bet Blake Coleman at DraftKings and get a $1,000 bonus, including a $500 risk-free bet]

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