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It might be time to break out some correlated parlays for the Stanley Cup Final.
If you think the Colorado Avalanche, favored for most of the season to win the Stanley Cup, will win it all then you might want to bet them and the over in most games. If you prefer the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Stanley Cup champs each of the past two years, maybe add the under to your bets.
Because the entire series seems to revolve around whether the Avalanche can score on Tampa Bay goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy.
Oddsmakers at BetMGM have made the well-rested Avalanche pretty heavy -160 favorites over the Lightning in Game 1 on Wednesday. The over/under, which will be huge in this series, is 6.
Vasilevskiy is on his way to the Hall of Fame at just 27 years old. He already has a place in hockey history because of his playoff dominance. He posted 1.90 goals against averages in each of the past two postseasons. He had five shutouts and a .937 save percentage in last year's playoffs. He posted a 2.27 GAA this season. He has been practically perfect in closeout games. He's amazing.
And Vasilevskiy is an even bigger figure in this series because the Avalanche's biggest question is goaltending. Heading into Game 1, the team had yet to announce if Darcy Kuemper, the regular starter who missed time with two separate injuries in the postseason, or Pavel Francouz would start. Both are capable, but neither is Vasilevskiy. Colorado might be a better team at practically every other position but Tampa Bay has a huge edge in net. Nobody would argue that. And it could flip the series. Colorado can score in waves, from all lines and the defense too. But Vasilevskiy is a unique challenge.
It should be a fantastic Stanley Cup Final, between a highly entertaining and talented Avs team and a proud champion from Tampa Bay. And in the middle of the action is a goalie who has the ability to take over the entire series.
Here's the first look at the sports betting slate for Wednesday:
What else is on the schedule?
The NHL did it right, featuring Game 1 on a night that the rest of the sporting world is mostly at rest. There are three WNBA games and it's a normal night in MLB, but the U.S Open golf tournament doesn't start until Thursday, the NBA Finals won't play Game 6 until Thursday and we don't have to worry about the soccer World Cup until November for some reason. A great Stanley Cup Final series takes center stage.
What about those MLB games?
The biggest story in baseball right now is the red-hot Atlanta Braves. The reigning champs started slowly this season but they've won 13 in a row to put some pressure on the New York Mets in the NL East. The Braves are still five games back, due to their start at the Mets being really good to this point, but they're coming on strong. The Braves are -190 favorites to make it 14 in row against the Washington Nationals on Wednesday.
The best game on the schedule could be the New York Yankees against the Tampa Bay Rays. The Yankees won 2-0 on Tuesday and have a 10-game lead over Tampa in the AL East (the Toronto Blue Jays are in second place, nine games back), but the Rays are a quality team. The Yankees have just been incredible all season. They're -145 favorites on Wednesday in a great pitching matchup between current AL Cy Young favorite Shane McClanahan of Tampa Bay and surprising Nestor Cortes of the Yankees. It's hard to pass up McClanahan as an underdog, even if the Yankees seem unbeatable.
What's the best bet?
I lean Lightning in Game 1, because a long layoff like the Avs had after they swept Edmonton isn't a great thing for a hot team. The +135 odds are pretty good for a tested Tampa Bay team.
For a best bet I'll go with the New York Mets. They're a +115 home underdog because Corbin Burnes is going for the Milwaukee Brewers, but the Brewers have been ice cold and the Mets have been the far better team this season. It's a good spot to take the Mets as a dog.