Avalanche vs. Lightning picks, odds: Expert predictions for Game 1 of NHL Stanley Cup Final

The Stanley Cup final is upon us and it’s a marquee matchup on paper. The two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning take on the Colorado Avalanche, the team that was favored to win the Cup as soon as odds posted right after the Lightning won it last year.

Colorado is a strong favorite (-190) to win the series and lift its first Cup since 2001. The Avalanche are also favorites (-160 on the moneyline) for Wednesday’s Game 1 from Ball Arena in Denver.

What time is Avalanche vs Lightning Game 1?

8 pm ET on Wednesday

Where to watch and stream Avalanche vs Lightning?

Channels: ABC, CBC, SN

Streaming: ESPN+, SN Now

Stanley Cup Final schedule

Game 1: Lightning at Avalanche | Wednesday, June 15 | 8pm ET

Game 2: Lightning at Avalanche | Saturday, June 18 | 8pm ET

Game 3: Avalanche at Lightning | Monday, June 20 | 8pm ET

Game 4: Avalanche at Lightning | Wednesday, June 22 | 8pm ET

Games 5*: Lightning at Avalanche | Friday, June 24 | 8pm ET

Game 6*: Avalanche at Lightning | Sunday, June 26 | 8pm ET

Game 7*: Lightning at Avalanche | Tuesday, June 28 | 8pm ET

Every day during the Stanley Cup Playoffs, The Athletic’s writers will make their picks, straight up. We put our picks, the TV schedule and all series coverage, plus the latest odds, all in one place for fans to easily digest and follow. Our in-depth NHL coverage is linked below the picks. For live NHL odds from BetMGM, click here.

What are the odds for Lightning at Avalanche Game 1?

team money line Total


O6 (-120)


U 6 (+100)

Series odds: Avalanches -190, Lightning +155

Avalanche vs Lightning Game 1 preview

Let’s get a few things out of the way before we get gritty on Game 1 of what sets up as one of the best Stanley Cup matchups in years. First, the one true prediction we can all agree on – should agree on – is that this series goes seven games. Fine, maybe you’re an Avalanche fan or a Lightning stan and you want total domination and a sweep. understood But stop being a buzzkill. This matchup is made for a Game 7. It would be a blast.

Second, there is some lingering mystery in this matchup, particularly the injuries to Colorado’s Nazem Kadri and Tampa Bay’s Brayden Point. If either of them returned able to play at or near full strength, they may tip the scales. The Lightning are at least deking that Point is close to a return. Wait and see.

Third, Cale Makar vs. Victor Hedman is a great tagline for this series. They are the perhaps the two premier defensemen in the sport. But just like Connor McDavid vs. Nathan MacKinnon defined the Western Conference Final and Igor Shesterkin vs. Andrei Vasilevskiy underlined the East, no one matchup will decide the champion. MacKinnon was great for the Avs, Vasilevskiy for the Lightning. But each team was so much more in their previous series. They needed to be more. Every line change matters at this point.

Now to the grit: The feeling on this series, from both outside and inside rooms around the league, favors Colorado. This should not be a surprise. As one NHL head coach put it: “The Avalanche are a juggernaut.” They’ve scored more goals per game in these playoffs (4.64) than any other team. They’ve allowed the fourth-fewest goals per game (2.86) and that nearly two-goal plus-side difference is, by far, the biggest in the playoffs.

In man-advantage situations, during the regular season, the Avs and Bolts were oddly similar, with nearly matching percentages on power plays and penalty kills. The numbers skewed in the playoffs. But it’s a wash. This series will be decided on open ice.

Before anybody makes the mistake of dismissing Tampa Bay, the Lightning do sport the best goaltender still playing, Vasilevskiy, Big Game Vasy, a ‘minder made for a Game 7. And, before we lose sight of history, let’s not forget how incredibly difficult it is to repeat as champions in the modern salary-cap NHL. Tampa Bay can win a third straight, which would make for a certified dynasty. The NHL hasn’t seen as much as a three-peat since the Islanders won four in a row through 1983. Only the Penguins have repeated i as champions in the salary-cap era before the Lightning did last year. Experience counts.

And yet, it’s true, the Avs are a juggernaut. They score from all angles. They fly on ice. The Lightning will have a size advantage at the blue line, but the Avs can skate into a blur. They are favorites for a reason. But it’s close.

Said one NHL head coach: “Gasoline on both sides.”

Said another: “Will be the best final in years.”

Avalanche vs Lightning expert picks and predictions for Game 1

Writer peck

Jesse Granger

Sean McIndoe

Shayna Goldman

Dom Luszczyszyn

Kevin Kurz

Sean Gentille

Expert Picks Records


Jesse Granger


Sean McIndoe


Dom Luszczyszyn


Sean Gentille


Shayna Goldman


Kevin Kurz


More Stanley Cup Playoffs coverage: News | Podcasts | odds

(Photo of Steven Stamkos: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports)


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