The puck will drop in the 2022 Stanley Cup Final, which will be between the Western Conference champions.and the Eastern champs. They are seeking to win their third consecutive championship. It will be a star-studded affair featuring , , , Others.
Daily Wager's and ESPN Chalk's crew are here to review the series and present their top picks..
You can catch the entire series on ABC or ESPN+. Keep your reminders set to 8 ET for the first contest in the packed Ball Arena in Denver.
The Stanley Cup Final will see the meeting of the two top preseason betting favorites since 2009. Are you in agreement with the Avalanche being preferred (-175 series price), over the two-time defending champions?
Anita Marks, ESPN Sports Betting Analysis: Yes. Yes.The Avalanche is the better team. Tampa Bay struggles against high powered offenses. Colorado is different because its players can be so physically demanding. I don't think Vasilevskiy will be capable of stopping Nathan MacKinnon or Cale Makar who contribute to the Avalanche scoring an average of five goals per game.
Joe Fortenbaugh: Tampa Bay's Series Price of +155 suggests a 39% Chance of Winning Really? Do you think that the Stanley Cup champions (who boast one of the most elite goaltenders in the sport) have only a 39% chance at lifting the Cup again? Three opponents with 110 points or more during the regular season were Tampa Bay's path towards the Final (Panels, Rangers, Maple Leafs). Colorado's path to the Final featured three opponents who scored 109 or less points during regular season. Not to mention the shaky goaltending options.(Nashville), (St. Louis) (Edmonton). The Avalanche could very well win this thing. I just think their price might be a little too high, which makes Lightning more valuable. My pick: Lightning +155
Greg Wyshynski, Senior NHL Writer: The series' price was surprising to me when it was first released. Since then, it has only increased in value. The best thing about this series is the possibility that either team could be backed without it seeming fraudulent. My series pick for the Avalanche.
Are you confident with that choice? Hell no. The Tampa Bay Lightning is that team. They excel in two areas: Identifying and exploiting weaknesses of opponents, no matter how offensive or defensive, and winning Stanley Cups. But, I think Colorado does have an advantage in speed, offensive depth and in Cale Makar. He is the offensive X factor, which makes game-planning against Colorado difficult. On the road, the Avalanche are also a highly regarded defensive team. Makar stated, “They're looking to become an dynasty and we're looking to leave a legacy.”
I'll inherit the legacy. Avalanche to win series.
Enjoy the best moments from the Lightning and Avalanche's postseason ahead of Wednesday's Stanley Cup Final Game 1 matchup.
Can anyone else win the Conn Smythe trophy (awarded to the playoff MVP) if Colorado wins?
Marks: MacKinnon (+230), can win it. But Makar is much more deserving. Makar has scored five goals and 17 assists in 14 playoff games and has 50 career playoff points. He is also the defenseman with the most games played. MacKinnon is worthy of consideration. It will ultimately come down which Cup series will be more prolific.
Wyshynski: Makar must maintain his scoring rate. MacKinnon is enjoying an extraordinary postseason. Makar is making history. The Conn Smythe applies to the entire duration of the playoffs. Makar's 10 points against Nashville in Round 1 set an NHL record for most defensemen in the first four rounds of a playoff season. Round 3 Makar andThey were given the task to win the 5-on-5 match against . Over 57% of the shots attempted and 56% of the goals expected were scored by the Avalanche while they were on ice. Makar's 1.57 point per game will make it the third most offensive postseason defenseman in NHL history. This is a minimum of 14 games behind the Oilers. The Bruins' Bobby Orr was in 1972 (1.60), and 1985 (2.06). Next highest after Makar 1.48) Guess which trophy he won?
To that end, do the Lightning players who win the series against Tampa Bay have any betting value to win Conn Smythe?
Marks: On offense, the Lightning have relied on Nikita Kucherov (+360). With 23 points in 17 games, he leads the team. He was crucial to Tampa Bay's recovery from a 2-0 deficit against Rangers in the Eastern Conference Final.
Wyshynski: Anita has a point with Kucherov. It's not like he won the Conn Smythe either of the two previous championship seasons. However, if the Lightning win the Stanley Cup it will likely be because Vasilevskiy (+1400) stops the playoffs’ best offensive team. After a tough first round against Toronto, he's been great. Vasilevskiy finished his highly-anticipated goalie duel with the Rangers.Four straight wins, and a.955 Save percentage in those four games.
Vasilevskiy's status as a closer has been legendary. He has won 13 series-clinching series and stopped 219 of 221 shots during his eight series-clinching victories. He could become the first goalie since Bernie Parent, the Flyers' 1975 and 1975 playoff MVPs, if he wins another dominating elimination game against the Avalanche.
Sachin Dave Chandan is the ESPN Betting Editor Vasilevskiy is the most likely Lightning to claim the trophy, just like he did last season. However, captain Steven Stamkos (+1600) and evenThere is a possibility (+7000) that you could win. While being the highest goal scorer doesn’t necessarily make you a Conn-Smythe favorite, it does usually get you in the discussion. The Lightning's Stamkos has nine goals and Palat is second with eight, which includes two game winners. Clutch, third period goals can help you get votes.
In the playoffs, high-scoring Colorado has not faced a goalie so talented as Tampa Bay’s Andrei Vasilevskiy. Are you confident that Colorado will score more than 3.5 goals per game?
Wyshynski: Not very confident. Tampa Bay is going try to win the series. It did so against the Rangers with five games ending under 5.5 goals. That is thanks in large part to Vasilevskiy. He was expected to score 3.05 goals per game against in all situations. In his 11 previous outings, he has only given up three goals once. That was in Game 1 against Rangers after a nine-day layoff. Although I can see the Avalanche scoring four goals with an empty-netter in some games, I would fade them on the total, especially when they are on the road.
Chandan: Joe mentioned earlier that the Avalanche have never faced Vasilevskiy in playoffs, and I am leaning towards the Avalanche team below 3.5 for Game 1. Maybe Colorado can overcome Vasilevskiy, and the Lightning defense. However, I expect Game 1 to be less scoring than the typical Avalanche game. Colorado's playoffs averaged 4.6 goals — and 5.5 during the Western Conference finals.
This sentence should be completed: I believe that _________ is the first goal scorer of Game 1.
Wyshynski: Stamkos (+650). MacKinnon is tied for third in playoffs scoring the first goal, while Stamkos (+650) led the Lightning with five goals in regular season. Although I don't think the Lightning will win Game 1, I believe they will in the first period after the layoff for Avalanche.
Chandan: MacKinnon (+600). He is the leader among forwards in playoffs with 83 shots and six first-period goals. This is a safe pick, but MacKinnon's speed could cause problems for Vasilevskiy in front of the net.