- The Stars (-110) and Lightning (-110) have equal odds to win the Stanley Cup despite Dallas leading the series 1-0
- Washington and St. Louis went on to win the Cup in 2018 and 2019 after dropping Game 1
- Anton Khudobin could become the first goalie to win the Conn Smythe Trophy since 2012
The Stars are one step closer to winning the franchise’s second championship after defeating the Lightning 4-1 in Game 1 of the 2020 Stanley Cup Final.
However, oddsmakers still view the series as a toss-up, giving both Dallas and Tampa Bay -110 odds to hoist Lord Stanley in the Edmonton bubble.
Let’s take a quick peek at the series odds at Bovada and pick a winner.
ODDS TO WIN 2020 STANLEY CUP
|Tampa Bay Lightning||-110|
HOW MUCH DOES GAME 1 MATTER?
Since the NHL adopted a best-of-7 format for the Final in 1939, the winner of Game 1 has gone on to claim the Stanley Cup 76 percent of the time (61 of 80 series).
That trend has reversed itself in recent years, however, with both Washington and St. Louis winning the Cup after dropping the series opener. It’s also worth noting that the Lightning lost Game 1 of their second-round series to Boston this year before sweeping the next four contests.
— NHL GIFs (@NHLGIFs) September 19, 2020
Before the puck dropped on Saturday night, Tampa Bay was a -182 favorite over Dallas, with a 62.7% implied chance of hoisting the Cup. This might be your best chance at getting the Lightning at near even odds, but keep in mind that teams that win both Games 1 and 2 have claimed the Cup 43 of 46 times (93.4%), with the Bruins being the last to do so in 2011.
So, if you’re betting the Bolts, you have to be confident they can win Game 2 on Monday night.
LIGHTNING OR STARS?
Lifelong backup Anton Khudobin stopped 35 of 36 shots for the Stars in Game 1, making 22 saves in the 3rd period as the Lightning dialed up the intensity.
The 34-year-old Russian also posted a ridiculous .950 save percentage and a 1.69 GAA in the Western Conference Finals against Vegas, putting him on a trajectory to become the first goalie to win the Conn Smythe Trophy since Jonathan Quick of the Los Angeles Kings in 2012.
Anton Khudobin is a legend.
— #StanleyCup Final on NBC (@NHLonNBCSports) September 15, 2020
To beat “Dobby”, the Bolts are going to need more production from their best players. Brayden Point has only a goal and assist in his past four games, while missing two games with an undisclosed injury. Nikita Kucherov, who leads the playoffs with 26 points (six goals, 20 assists), has also managed just four assists in his past five games.
There were rumblings on Sunday that captain Steven Stamkos “is inching his way closer” to the lineup and might be available for Game 2, but there’s no telling how rusty he might be after missing six-plus months with a core muscle injury.
You would expect Stamkos to be eager to draw back in given the long list of heartbreaks and near misses the Lightning suffered over the years. They of course fell in the Finals to the Blackhawks in 2015, lost in the Conference Finals in seven games to the eventual Cup champs in both 2016 (Penguins) and 2018 (Capitals), and then were swept by the Blue Jackets in 2019 after becoming only the second team in league history to win 62 games.
— Sports by Tampa Bay Times (@TBTimes_Sports) September 20, 2020
Tampa Bay probably “deserves” this one, but the hockey gods are nothing if not cruel. We think Dallas wins the Stanley Cup in 7 games.
Best bet: Stars (-110) at Bovada