NHL Betting Guide: Friday 7/2/21

Nick Suzuki leads the Canadiens with six goals this postseason. Can he help their offense get back on track in Game 3?

The 2021 NHL season has spanned into its seventh month, as the Montreal Canadiens and Tampa Bay Lightning approach a conclusion to the Stanley Cup Finals and abbreviated season. The Lightning can take a commanding 3-0 series lead with a win in Montreal tonight, but the biggest advantage lies in the total.

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Montreal Canadiens vs. Tampa Bay Lightning

Over 5.5 (+134): 1-Star Rating Out of 5

Effectively, totals boil down to offensive production and goaltending. We've seen contrasting metrics from Carey Price and Andrei Vasilevskiy through two games, but we should expect regression from Vasilevskiy over the coming games.

Vasilevskiy is stopping 96.1% of shots over his last five games, which is substantially higher than his playoff average of 93.9% and even further ahead of his regular-season average of 92.5%.

That increase has come despite mounting pressure from the Habs. Across all strengths, Montreal attempted 43 shots, 35 scoring chances, and 10 high-danger opportunities in Game 2. Wednesday night's affair was the second time this series that Montreal failed to record a high-danger goal, inflating Vasilevskiy's high-danger save percentage to an incomprehensible 89.7% this postseason. For reference, the Lightning finished the regular season with an 83.5% high-danger save percentage, with the Colorado Avalanche leading the NHL at 85.1%. Any way you cut it, Vasilevskiy is due for regression.

That goes hand in hand with the Canadiens' offensive production, which is due for increased output. The Habs have increased their production metrics in each of their last three games, but that hasn't translated to increased output yet. Montreal has scored just five goals, none of which have come from high-danger areas, watching their shooting percentage dwindle to 5.3% over those three games. We should expect some correction as the Habs' output creeps up to match production.

Tampa continues to operate their offense efficiently, scoring on 13.0% of shots or more in three of their last five games. All told, they have a 12.9% shooting percentage over those five games, scoring 19 goals. The Bolts have had Price's number through the first two games of the series, scoring on 16.0% of shots.

Based on our projections, the biggest implied advantage in tonight's game comes in backing the over. Price has struggled, Vasilevskiy is due for regression, and we should expect sustained production from both offenses.