The Action Network: Lightning vs. Canadiens, Game 4 odds, analysis

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The Action Network is providing NHL.com readers with odds and analysis for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Today, a look at Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final between the Tampa Bay Lightning and Montreal Canadiens.

Lightning at Canadiens Stanley Cup Final Game 4 odds

Lightning odds: -160
Canadiens odds: +130
Over/Under: 5
Time: 8 p.m. ET

Note: If you’re new to betting, the Lightning’s -160 odds mean a $160 bet would profit $100 if they win the game. Conversely, the Canadiens’ +130 odds mean a $100 bet would net $130. Convert odds using The Action Network’s Betting Odds Calculator.

The Tampa Bay Lightning are now -5000 favorites to win the 2021 Stanley Cup, meaning that a $5,000 bet on Tampa to lift the Cup would profit only $100. When you convert those odds to implied win probability they translated to a 98.4% chance that the Bolts get the job done.

Ahead of Game 3, I discussed how the “must-win” narrative can often skew the market for a given contest. Casual bettors will often gravitate towards a team with its back against the wall, and that, in turn, causes its price to tick up. I think it’s safe to say that we saw that happen when the Lightning closed as -120 favorites on Friday night before winning 6-3. It was the lowest price on the Bolts since Game 5 of Round 2 against the Hurricanes.

The market seems to have corrected itself for Game 4 as the Lightning currently sit at -160 favorites as they try to close the show on Monday night. No matter the series scoreline, that number seems a lot more inline with how these two teams should be priced for a game in Montreal.

Conn Smythe watch

Another interesting betting subplot ahead of Game 4 is the race for the Conn Smythe. Bookmakers seem to think, barring anything absurd, that the top contenders to be named MVP of the Stanley Cup Playoffs are Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy and right wing Nikita Kucherov.

Both players were offered at decent prices before the playoffs started. Vasilevskiy came into the tournament at +2000, while Kucherov opened at +3000. Here’s where the Conn Smythe race currently stands:

Andrei Vasilevskiy -150
Nikita Kucherov +125
Brayden Point +1000
Carey Price +1800

First of all, it says a lot about the Lightning that Point, a player who scored a goal in nine straight playoff games, is a longshot to win the Conn Smythe. That’s what happens when one of your teammates plays at a world-beating level in goal, while another one of your colleagues has a chance to win the playoff scoring race by double-digits.

You could make a water-tight argument for Vasilevskiy or Kucherov to take home the Conn Smythe, but bookmakers have Vasilevskiy currently pegged as the odds-on favorite for the award ahead of Game 4 at -150. The 26-year-old netminder has been outrageously good for the Bolts this summer, leading all netminders with a .938 save percentage and a +25.9 Goals Saved Above Expected (GSAx) in 21 games during the postseason. Perhaps more impressive is the fact that Vasilevskiy’s +25.9 GSAx is 16 goals better than any other goaltender during the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

On a normal team, Vasilevskiy would be a shoe-in for the Conn Smythe. But we know these Bolts are not normal. And Kucherov certainly is not normal, either. With his three-point performance in Game 1, Kucherov became just the third player in NHL history to record 30 points in back-to-back postseasons, joining a list that only included Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux. Kucherov would add two more points over the next two contests to run his total to 32. Brayden Point is the next closest player with 23 points.

Should the Lightning wrap things up on Monday night, you could be pretty certain that one of Kucherov or Vasilevskiy will be named as the MVP of the postseason. There is no “wrong” choice between the two. Barring something completely extraordinary, one of these worthy competitors will have to settle for second in the voting. And that means that there could be folks out there who made great bets — whether on Vasilevskiy at 20/1 or Kucherov at 30/1 — that could ultimately lose in heartbreaking fashion.

Michael Leboff covers the NHL and more at The Action Network — a sports media company that builds products and creates content to inform and entertain the sports bettor.

Listen: NHL Fantasy on Ice podcast with guests from The Action Network

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