NHL betting: Are bettors giving up on the Tampa Bay Lightning?
There's an old saying across the NHL playoffs that a team isn't in trouble until it loses a home game in a series. If you win all your home games, you'll at least force a Game 7, and especially in a sport like hockey, anything can happen. From that perspective, the Tampa Bay Lightning aren't dead despite what we saw on Saturday night in Denver, where Colorado won 7-0. However, bettors surely aren't lining up to back the Lightning on their home ice in Game 3 on Monday night.
Colorado has looked dominant
Through two games in this series, the Colorado Avalanche have an expected goals advantage of 4.18 to 1.57 (72.7%) at 5-on-5, according to Natural Stat Trick. Game 1 of the series went to overtime, but that scoreline flattered Tampa Bay, as the Avalanche had a 38-23 advantage in shots and over 68% of the expected goals. Game 2's score of 7-0 was more representative of how that game went. Tampa Bay generated just 0.35 expected goals at 5-on-5.
The Avalanche opened the preseason as Stanley Cup favorites, and they've led the way ever since. Colorado opened as a -190 favorite to win this series. Currently, Colorado is -650 to win the Stanley Cup. The Avalanche finished the regular season with the second-best record, and they are 14-2 in the playoffs, including a 7-0 mark on the road while outscoring opponents 36-20 in those games.
Combine all of these factors, and it's no surprise that the betting public loves Colorado to win Game 3. Currently at BetMGM, 67% of bets and a nice 69% of the money is backing Colorado to take a 3-0 series lead. The game is a pick 'em, with both Colorado and Tampa Bay currently -110 on the moneyline.
Is the series over?
It's hard to say that it looks good for Tampa Bay right now. The Lightning are +450 underdogs to win the Stanley Cup. Not only are they down 2-0 in the series, but they've looked extremely slow and have failed to keep pace with Colorado.
However, it was just a few weeks ago when the Lightning dropped the first two games to the Rangers on the road. They came home and went down 2-0 early in Game 3. That looked like it could have been the end for the Lightning. However, they showed their championship pedigree and came back to win that game and then went on to win three straight games.
However, the Avalanche are not the Rangers. New York was a solid group that relied heavily on their goaltender to win games. Colorado is arguably the most talented team in the league. I'm not saying the Lightning are dead, but if they pull off this comeback, it'll be by far their most impressive accomplishment of their superb three-year run.
If you're a believer in Tampa Bay's ability to make this a series, there's plenty of ways to bet. Tampa Bay is +110 to cover the series spread of 2.5 games. In order to win that bet, you'd need the Lightning to force a Game 6. If you think Tampa makes it interesting but ends up falling short, you can bet the Lightning to win Game 3 but Colorado wins the series at +150 odds. Of course, you can go big and bet the Lightning to come all the way back and win the Stanley Cup at +450.
What else are bettors backing on Monday?
The public is also siding with the over, as 78% of bets are on the game to go over six goals. Both games in this series have gone over the total.
Colorado has beaten Andrei Vasilevskiy 11 times in the first two games of this series, and despite Colorado's firepower, it's really hard to imagine that continuing. The Rangers scored nine goals in the first two games of the conference finals, but managed just five over the final four games against Vasilevskiy and the Lightning.
Other popular bets on Monday night focus around the prop market and Colorado's two big stars. The most popular prop bet is Nathan MacKinnon to score the first goal at 10-to-1 odds. MacKinnon is yet to score in this series. Bettors also like MacKinnon to score at any time. That bet pays out at +130 as the Avalanche's star forward looks for his first goal of the series.
The third-most popular prop bet is Cale Makar to score at any time at +280 odds. Makar scored two garbage-time goals in the third period of Game 2. He's the current favorite to win the Conn Smythe at -175.