The Tampa Bay Lightning had one opportunity after another to complete the sweep over the Montreal Canadiens, but they couldn’t get it done.
Is it possible that they have allowed the Habs, who came back from down 3-1 to beat Toronto in the opening playoff round, a chance they’ll come to regret?
Some BetAnySports customers might be feeling that way. But the Bolts have every reason to feel confident as they go into Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Finals, which begins at 8:05 PM ET on Wednesday at Amalie Arena in Tampa (on NBC).
Or will it?
Hurricane Elsa looms over the proceedings, and we wonder whether damage done by the storm, which was upgraded late on Tuesday, will affect the ability of fans to attend. After all, one could expect flooding and power outages.
We could sense that there was indeed a power shortage in the Tampa Bay power play in Game 4. The Lightning had ten minutes worth of chances, but could not cash in, as we recall the Canadiens and their ability to kill off everything for 13 consecutive games coming into this series.
The most dramatic sequence may have taken place during a stretch that spanned the end of regulation and spilled into overtime. Shea Weber went off for high-sticking, in what was called a four-minute penalty. For 1:01 of the third period, and 2:59 of the overtime, Tampa Bay did its best to bombard Montreal goalie Carey Price, to no avail. In fact, the Habs even had a chance to end things with a short-handed goal. Ultimately, Josh Anderson gave them a superhuman effort to hammer home the winner – his second goal of the evening.
And so Montreal has another life.
In the Stanley Cup odds that have been posted on this game by the folks at BetAnySports, the Lightning are once again the favorites:
Tampa Bay Lightning -225
Montreal Canadiens +185
Lightning -1.5 Goals +125
Canadiens +1.5 Goals -145
Over 5 Goals -125
Under 5 Goals +105
One shouldn’t be all that surprised that Carey Price returned to form in Game 4, but if you’re a Montreal backer, you’ve got to be a little concerned about some of the defensive lapses that either led to the Tampa Bay goals or to very close calls, including a Nikita Kucherov shot from right in front of Price that hit the post.
You simply can’t have the opposition standing alone in front of your goaltender, and you’re not going to survive if someone from the fourth line, like Pat Maroon, gets past your defense to nail a critical goal.
The Canadiens did a number of things in the way of mistakes that may have sunk them under normal circumstances, and some positive things that they probably can’t replicate, like the first NHL goal for Alexander Romanov, assisted by Jake Evans, who hadn’t played since Game 1.
Head coach Dominique Ducharme switched his forwards around to generate more offensive punch, but by adding Tyler Toffoli (their leading regular season scorer) to a line with Brendan Gallagher and Patrick Danault, he didn’t get results. They were on the ice ten minutes together (at even strength), and were outshot 6-to-1, with a “Corsi For” figure of just 17.6%.
On the other hand, the Bolts had an overall 5v5 Corsi of 59.8%, which indicates a certain level of dominance, and they demonstrated their offensive balance, as the fourth line (Maroon, with Tyler Johnson and Mathieu Joseph) had a 64.7% Corsi and a 66.7% Fenwick (extremely good, as indicated by those advanced stats).
And it was not in any way a coincidence that Tampa Bay led Montreal 34-21 in shots on goal.
This is a roundabout way of us telling you that we couldn’t back Montreal in this game. But since we don’t want to lay that kind of price, we’re looking to lay a goal and a half, in the process grabbing +125 odds at BetAnySports, which offers you a generous amount of betting options on the Stanley Cup. Don’t forget that you get the same with the NBA Finals, as well as reduced juice and live wagering through Super Lines and Ultimate Lines!