Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final is in the books and although the Dallas Stars failed to take a 2-0 series lead, they have slightly improved their chances of defeating the Lightning. It’s a best-of-five now, and with that comes added variance. By my estimation, the Lighting’s odds of winning the series have dropped from -225 to -200, which is about a two percent drop. However, that’s assuming we don’t see the return of Steven Stamkos, and my money is on the Lightning captain playing at some point in the series. Therefore, the Lightning’s adjusted series price should be closer to -220 heading into Game 3.
Goaltenders continue to be rock solid
Both Andrei Vasilevskiy and Anton Khudobin were solid again in Game 2, and while the latter’s performance grades out slightly below average, I’ll defer to the eye test as I believe the Lightning were fortunate to jump out to a 3-0 lead in the first period. That’s not to say that the Lightning weren’t the better team, they definitely were. Had it not been for Khudobin, however, the Stars never would have had a chance to win the game. Once again, bettors that decided to bet into the game total got their money back as the two teams combined for five goals for the second game in a row. It’s a coin flip whether these games go over (or stay under) the total.
The time is now for Rick Bowness to shine
Bowness, the Stars' head coach, will have the last chance in Games 3 and 4 as his team has home ice advantage and thus will have last change. Bowness was an associate coach with the Lighting from 2013-2018 and will have an opportunity to use what he knows about Jon Cooper and the Lightning bench to try and gain an edge. Whether the way the veteran bench boss chooses to match his lines up against the Lightning’s top skaters translates to a win is another story.
Looking ahead to Game 3
Unless Stamkos is somehow able to make it into the lineup, the Lightning have about a 58 percent chance (-140) of winning Game 3. If Stamkos was to return on Wednesday, the market would very likely overreact, and it’s best not to get caught up in that. If a shop has listed the Lightning as a -150 favorite, their odds will likely shoot up to -170 in no time if Stamkos hits the ice for warmups. If you can’t get your bet down before the market moves, you might just want to sit the game out. Unless, of course, you’re looking to back the Stars, then you might just find yourself on the right side of a market overreaction. Time will tell.