The Colorado Avalanche seem to be on a mission this postseason as they have won 12 of 14 games en route to their first appearance in the Stanley Cup Final since 2001. Eight of those victories were by two or more goals, with five coming by at least three tallies. Colorado's potent offense faces its toughest task to date, however, as it faces reigning Conn Smythe Trophy winner Andrei Vasilevskiy and the two-time defending champion Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 1 of the 2022 Stanley Cup Final on Wednesday. Since Game 7 of Tampa Bay's first-round series against Toronto, Vasilevskiy has allowed fewer than two goals in eight of his 11 outings.
Opening face-off at Ball Arena in Denver is set for 8 p.m. ET. Colorado is the -150 favorite (risk $150 to win $100) in the latest Avalanche vs. Lightning odds from Caesars Sportsbook, while the over-under for total goals scored is six. Before making any Lightning vs. Avalanche picks, check out the NHL predictions from SportsLine's Matt Severance.
Severance is a well-connected writer and handicapper who has worked in the industry since 2005. He is SportsLine's top NHL handicapper, going 134-71-4 in his last 209 NHL picks and returning well over $2,700 for $100 players. Anyone who has followed him is way up.
- Avalanche vs. Lightning money line: Colorado -150, Tampa Bay +130
- Avalanche vs. Lightning over-under: 6 goals
- Avalanche vs. Lightning puck line: Colorado -1.5 (+170)
- Avalanche vs. Lightning tickets: See tickets at StubHub
- COL: Colorado is 9-2 in its last 11 games after allowing at least five goals in its previous contest
- TB: The Lightning are 5-1 in their last six contests at Colorado
Why the Avalanche can win
Colorado's high-powered offense produced four or more goals each time out during its four-game sweep of Edmonton in the Western Conference final, amassing a total of 22 in the series. The Avalanche have scored at least four times in eight of their 12 victories this postseason and also hit that number in one of their two defeats. Nathan MacKinnon leads the team with 11 playoff goals and eight others have recorded five or more.
MacKinnon, the first overall pick in the 2013 NHL Draft, has been kept off the scoresheet in only two of his 14 playoff games and enters the Stanley Cup Final with a four-game point streak during which he has recorded three goals and two assists. Mikko Rantanen also has been on fire this postseason, registering at least one point in 11 of 14 contests. The 25-year-old Finnish right wing, who was drafted 10th overall in 2015, has notched six points during his four-game streak and scored a goal in each contest.
Why the Lightning can win
Tampa Bay was counted out by many in two of its three series this postseason, but the Lightning used their championship experience to become the first team since Edmonton (1983-85) to reach the Stanley Cup Final a third consecutive time. The Lightning overcame a 3-2 deficit to knock out Toronto in the first round and trailed 2-0 against the New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference final before winning the next four contests. Veterans such as Nikita Kucherov, Ondrej Palat, captain Steven Stamkos and Andrei Vasilevskiy were instrumental in keeping alive the team's Cup hopes.
Kucherov, who led the NHL in scoring each of the last two postseasons, concluded the series against New York with a five-game point streak during which he notched three goals and five assists, while Palat got on the scoresheet in five of the six contests, recording four tallies and as many assists. Stamkos finished with five goals and two assists in the matchup as he netted both tallies in Tampa Bay's 2-1 triumph in Game 6. The reigning Conn Smythe Trophy winner, Vasilevskiy allowed only five goals over the final four games of the series after yielding nine in the first two.
How to make Lightning vs. Avalanche picks
Severance has analyzed Lightning vs. Avalanche from every angle and is leaning under on the total. He's also found a critical x-factor that has him jumping all over one side of the money line. You can only get the pick at SportsLine.
So who wins Lightning vs. Avalanche in Game 1 of the 2022 Stanley Cup Final? And which critical x-factor makes one side hit hard? Visit SportsLine now to see which side of the Avalanche vs. Lightning money line to jump on, all from the expert who has crushed his NHL picks, and find out.