Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final between the Montreal Canadiens and Tampa Bay Lightning is on tap tonight as the series shifts to Canada.
Let's get to it.
Me to myself: "Why would you bet on Montreal twice in a row?"
Me: "Because the juice was good and I liked their chances."
Me to myself: "But it's the Lightning — the Tampa Bay Lightning."
Me: "I know."
Me to myself: Are you going to bet against them again?"
Obviously, Tampa Bay wants to become the first repeat champion in a while, so it was well expected that they'd put their best foot forward in both home games to start this Final. They knocked Montreal to the canvas in Game 1, withstood a brief flurry from the Habs in Game 2 — the Canadiens outshot the Lightning 43-23 but could muster just one goal — but still sealed the deal.
Now, the defending champs will travel to Canada — the first time they've made the trip in over a year — as the series shifts to the Bell Centre.
Will a return home be just what the doctor ordered for Montreal? Will the return of interim head coach Dominique Ducharme right this ship?
Is Montreal really going to lose to Tampa Bay for the 11th time in their last 12 meetings, and for the seventh time in a row?
The Habs largely outplayed the Lightning in Game 2, holding a 1-1 tie towards the end of the second period. Of course, then Tampa Bay scored a late circus goal, and once again the inhuman efforts of Andrei Vasilevskiy helped the defending champs hold on for a 3-1 victory. Maybe Tampa Bay won't sweep this series, but all signs point to them taking the Cup, especially if Montreal doesn't figure out a way to get to Vasilevskiy. You know it's bad when Montreal had the upper hand in Game 2 and still lost by two goals.
The odds for this game are interesting, especially considering how big of an underdog Montreal was in Games 1 or 2. One could look at these low odds for the Lightning and jump at the chance to bet on them for a Game 3 victory. Of course, you could also look at it as a clear trap, thinking Montreal takes this one at home. Suffice it to say, a game like this presents an interesting conundrum for a bettor. Where you land largely depends on the simplicity of it all; who do you think is going to win?
Montreal is 4-0-1 straight up and 4-0 against the spread at home in its last 10 games overall. Tampa Bay is 2-1-1 SU and 1-3 ATS away from the Amalie Arena its last 10. Will a trip up north throw the Lightning off their game just enough to shake Vasilevskiy a bit and allow the Habs to steal one?
Me to myself: "You're gonna do it again, aren't you."
Yes, against most forms of logic, I do think Montreal showed enough in Game 2 to carry some momentum into Game 3 where, armed with the return of their coach and on home ice, they'll be able to pull out a victory. I also like the UNDER here, as I think the goaltenders will determine the results of this series going forward (not to mention, Tampa is 0-2-2 to the UNDER their last 10 games away, and only one Habs game has hit the OVER their last 10 at home.
I will say this: if Montreal doesn't win Game 3 — if they don't get to Vasilevskiy here — we need to start thinking about a possible Lightning sweep.
For now, though, I'll give the bleu blanc et rouge one more chance.
Pick(s): Montreal Canadiens ML (+110) / UNDER 5 (-105)