When are we going to learn to never count out the Tampa Bay Lightning? Down 2-0 for the second consecutive series, and trailing in Game 3 just like they were in the Eastern Conference Final, the Lightning did what the Lightning do. With their backs against the wall, their leaders stepped up and clawed them to yet another victory.
Folks, we’ve got a series.
Game 4 will take place in Florida, giving the host Lightning a chance to even this series up at two and effectively turn the Stanley Cup Final into a three-game series. Will it happen? I’m not so sure, but what I am sure of is there will be goals. Plenty of goals.
Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Colorado Avalanche Game 4 Betting Odds & Pick
For those who’ve followed not just my NHL best bets this year, but my wagers across all sports, you know I’m almost exclusively an under bettor. But there are a lot of trends that point to the over in Game 4, so we’ll lay a unit on over six goals.
Firstly, and perhaps most importantly, the Avalanche have an issue in goal. For the “it’s only one game” crowd: did the Lightning pull Andrei Vasilevskiy when he gave up seven goals in Game 2? Did we have a shred of doubt that he’d be starting Game 3? No to both. But did the Avalanche pull Darcy Kuemper in Game 3 after allowing five pucks to get behind him? Is there doubt and speculation surrounding Colorado’s crease in Game 4? Was there legitimate doubt from Jared Bednar prior to Game 1 as to who his starting goaltender was? Yes to all three. There’s blood in the water, and Tampa Bay can smell it. Especially on their home ice. Kuemper is probably going to play, but he gave up 2.3 goals above expectation in just a period and a half. We may see another six-pack of goals from the two-time defending champs tonight.
Darcy Kuemper allowed 2.5 goals above expected in all situations, via @NatStatTrick.
Not his sharpest night, not the sharpest postseason after such a good year. Has had just four quality starts in the playoffs + nine that have fallen below expectations.
— Shayna (@hayyyshayyy) June 21, 2022
Secondly, let’s not count the Avs out here and let’s remember the events that transpired in Game 3. Colorado scored five minutes in, but a challenge – and we’ll leave it up to debate if the officials gave Jon Cooper too much time to make a decision – overturned the goal because the puck was a whisker offside. Had that goal counted, we may very well be looking at a different game with even more scoring than the eight goals it finished with. And even further, we may be looking at a much closer game. Why does that matter? The second period ended 6-2 and the game ended 6-2; there were no goals in the third period. Tampa Bay sat on their lead and there wasn’t much push from Colorado. A closer game would have led to more back-and-forth, and I expect a much tighter contest tonight where neither team has the opportunity to sit on their lead and both teams have the urgency to put the puck in the net.
Perhaps secondarily but still important – Tampa Bay’s defense-first mindset clearly didn’t work in Games 1 and 2. They allowed 11 goals through the first two games of the series and they learned the hard way that it’s extremely difficult to shut down the Avalanche in transition. The best way to beat them looks to be going punch-for-punch, goal for goal with them. The Lightning had 32 shots on net in Game 3 after just 40 combined in the first two games. There’s been a shift in philosophy, and it’s going to lead to more scoring.
And finally, all three games in this series have exceeded six goals. Make it four straight tonight; take the over down to -110.
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