By Charles Jay
Stanley Cup betting
In the odds that have been posted by the people at BetAnySports, Tampa Bay is favored in this Sat June 13th 8 PM ET start at the Amalie Arena:
Tampa Bay Lightning -125
Chicago Blackhawks +105
Over 5.5 goals -150
Under 5.5 goals +130
Is going to be a rough proposition the rest of the way for the Tampa Bay Lightning if they can’t get Steven Stamkos goes rolling. Stamkos, who was the second-leading goalscorer in the NHL this season, has had no goals at all during this Stanley Cup finals series. In fact, he has gone six consecutive games without finding the net. Not that he hasn’t had chances; BetAnySports customers know he has. Lightning coach Jon Cooper has pointed out that Stamkos is actually kind of unlucky, a little like a basketball player who showing good form shooting the ball, but it just won’t go in the hole.
It was Stamkos who made some of the statements after Game 1 that may turn out to be rather prescient, as he mentioned that he thought this series, more or less was going to be determined with defense, not wide-open offensive play. As Tampa Bay had to go with their young Russian goaltender Andres Vasilevskiy on Wednesday night, in place of Ben Bishop, who sat out with a mysterious injury, the concern was that they had to give him all the support possible.
Does that cramp Tampa Bay’s style? Well, the Lightning haven’t been too bad when they’ve had to stay back on defense; in fact, they arguably have the best defensive pairing in this series, when you consider the combo of Victor Hedman and Aaron Stralman. Hedman is a great two-way player, as he got three shots on goal in Game 4 and has been this team’s best possession player at 70.4%.
They would appear to be some opportunity for Tampa Bay to exploit the potential weakness in the Chicago defense, as Johnny Oduya suffered an injury to his left arm in Game 3 which affected his play on Wednesday. He will continue to be in the lineup, but remember that the Blackhawks primarily go with four defenseman only, and that will cause some hardship if Oduya is below par.
It’s a good thing Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane are not below par; both of them have ten goals in the playoffs thus far, and BetAnySports patrons know that Brandon Saad has been the guy who has really made his stock rise. Saad had the game-winner in Wednesday’s 2-1 Chicago vistory, six minutes and 22 seconds into the third period, and has scored four goals in his last six games. On top of that, he made a big defensive play in the final minute, when the action was fast and furious with Tampa Bay trying to tie the score.
This has been a tight series all the way; in fact, it is the first time the first four games of the Stanley Cup finals have been decided by one goal since 1968, and it is only the third time overall. Will Ben Bishop be in the next for the Lightning? There’s no definitive word on that as of yet, but he did miss practice on Friday.
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