Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Colorado Avalanche: Stanley Cup Final, Game 1 Prediction, Preview, Picks & Odds - 6/15/2022

by Chuck Sommers

Stanley Cup Final – Game 1

Time: 8 p.m. ET
Venue: Ball Arena, Denver, CO
Where to watch: ABC

Opening Odds at USA Sportsbooks


DraftKings: Avalanche -155, Lightning +135
BetMGM: Avalanche -160, Lightning +135
Caesars: Avalanche -161, Lightning +140

Monty Hale completed a strong 9-2-0 run over the last month in the NHL. Are you ready for the most highly anticipated Stanley Cup Final we’ve had in a long time? The two best teams over the past few seasons going at it. And you need to make sure you’re locked in at bigal.com for all of the analysis and thoughts on who will win between the Lightning and Avalanche. You need to be tuned in here to find out all the expert analysis. Catch Monty’s plays available right now at the Shop Picks page, where you can find all of the Best Bets from our champion sports handicappers.

Lightning - Avalanche preview and analysis


It felt like this was the only outcome. In a season with so much intrigue and a postseason that will be memorable for years to come, it felt like this was the only outcome we needed left in order to determine who wins the Stanley Cup.

And if you need any more build-up to what’s coming, Cale Makar said it best: “They’re a team that’s looking to become a dynasty. We’re a team that’s looking to start a legacy.”

And that is where we find ourselves entering Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final between the Colorado Avalanche and Tampa Bay Lightning. The Avs, the team with the home-ice advantage, finally making it to the Final after three years of disappointment and wondering if this group would ever get over the hump. On the other side, the Lightning are trying to do something that is rare in sports and especially rare in this day and age in the NHL: three-peat.

And if you look at it from just the peripheral lens, this is the greatest test the Lightning have faced in their runs to back-to-back Stanley Cups. The Lightning had to go through a COVID bubble and a 56-game season with two more months of playoff hockey on top of that. If there’s anything that we can definitely say about this group is that, win or lose, they have become the greatest team of this past decade.

But no disrespect to the Montreal Canadiens and Dallas Stars. This is the Colorado Avalanche and even if they’ve had years of hysterical finger-pointing done their way, it’s always come back around to ensure they are the best team in the Western Conference and have been for years.

"People don't realize how hard it is to build a championship team, and when you think you're close, to blow it up is the stupidest thing you can do, because you don't know when you'll ever get a chance to be back," Lightning forward Alex Killorn said.

The Lightning are no stranger to that adversity. Before winning back-to-back Cups, the thought of blowing it up should’ve been at the forefront when Tampa got swept in the first round to the Columbus Blue Jackets after a 128-point season. Perhaps the group should’ve been blown up after the Lightning Twitter account posted that statement to its fanbase.

But they didn’t. Jon Cooper, though he’s never in consideration for a Jack Adams Award for some reason, is far and away the best coach in the league. He’s found ways to give this roster a chance every year, even when general manager Julien BriseBois has re-tooled it with the likes of Brandon Hagel and Nick Paul, complementing the top stars with Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov, Victor Hedman and, of course, Andrei Vasilevskiy.

"You look back at how that team played versus how our team plays now, there's a lot of differences, and there's a lot more sacrifice and guys willing to do a lot of things," Stamkos said when talking 2019 to today. "A lot of guys had career years and statistics and points and this and that, but our ultimate goal is to win, and the egos are checked at the door, for sure. That takes a while sometimes."

Colorado has also built itself on that same level of superstardom, and it starts with Nathan MacKinnon. It’s been a long time coming to give him the mantra of the best player in the world, and it certainly helps to have the talent around him to make it happen. And Colorado has done that with the likes of Mikko Rantanen and Gabriel Landeskog, but there’s also the emergence of superstardom that is Nazem Kadri; there’s Valeri Nichushkin going from bust to 20-goal scorer.

Then there’s Makar and Devon Toews anchoring the blue line, with Bowen Byram still getting better. You look at the roster and you’re almost enthralled at how this group went from being a 48-point team in 2017 to where they are now.

"I think it starts from the belief from [GM Joe Sakic] and our ownership," MacKinnon said. "They never expressed disbelief in us at all, even through the hard times, and it always kind of gives you a little bit more confidence, I think, when especially a guy like Joe Sakic is supporting you and believes in you.”

Game 1 prediction


It has been 20 years since the Avalanche hosted a Stanley Cup Final game, and that home crowd hasn’t been jacked for something like this in a long time. It wouldn’t shock me, with the rest they had after sweeping the Edmonton Oilers, that they come out blazing and get on the board early. It also can't be overstated the importance of possibly getting Brayden Point back in the lineup. It’s going to depend greatly who’s in goal, but if it’s Pavel Francouz, they’ve got to get him scoring help early. I like Colorado in Game 1. Avalanche win 4-2

Series prediction


I saw something on Twitter that made a lot of sense: You can’t count out the Lightning until they are officially knocked out. And that logic makes so much sense that Tampa can’t be counted out under any circumstance. Whether it’s trailing 3-2 against Toronto or 2-0 against New York, the Lightning find a way. And until I see some team knock them off, it’s still Tampa to win. Lightning in 6

Betting trends


Lightning are 6-5 in Game 1 of a playoff series the past three years.

Lightning are 4-7 this season after a four-game unbeaten streak.

Avalanche are 7-2 this season off a road win by one goal.

Avalanche are 24-6 off a road win this season.

Avalanche are 86-43 off an over the past three seasons.

Projected lines


Lightning:

Steven Stamkos -- Brayden Point -- Nikita Kucherov

Brandon Hagel -- Anthony Cirelli -- Alex Killorn

Ross Colton -- Nicholas Paul -- Ondrej Palat

Pat Maroon -- Pierre-Edouard Bellemare -- Corey Perry

Victor Hedman -- Jan Rutta

Ryan McDonagh -- Erik Cernak

Mikhail Sergachev -- Zach Bogosian

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Avalanche:

Gabriel Landeskog -- Nathan MacKinnon -- Valeri Nichushkin

Artturi Lehkonen -- Mikko Rantanen -- Andre Burakovsky

Alex Newhook -- J.T. Compher -- Nico Sturm

Andrew Cogliano -- Darren Helm -- Logan O'Connor

Devon Toews -- Cale Makar

Jack Johnson -- Josh Manson

Bowen Byram -- Erik Johnson

Darcy Kuemper

Don't miss our champion handicappers' free picks and expert hockey picks today. And if you enjoyed this Tampa Bay Lightning - Colorado Avalanche prediction, be sure to drop by every day for our daily NHL projections and previews.

Chuck Sommers

About the Author:

Chuck Sommers has camped outside of sportsbooks since he can remember, learning the tricks and nuances of the trade. He still has nightmares of betting $5,000 on the Raiders in the Tuck Rule game but has since turned that to 25 years of veteran handicapping greatness. You can find him mostly in the shadows at the Red Rock or Aliante casinos wondering if the over is cashing on any given Sunday.

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

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