NHL Hockey Betting: Pittsburgh Penguins at Tampa Bay Lightning

NHL Hockey Betting:  Pittsburgh Penguins at Tampa Bay Lightning

The Pittsburgh Penguins will try to take a commanding 3-1 lead in their best of seven Eastern Conference Final series against the Tampa Bay Lightning as the two teams play in the ‘Cigar City’. Game Three was a nightmare for Tampa Bay defensively and the Lightning have gone very quickly from a tie series to being in a veritable ‘must win’ situation. The winner of this series will take on the winner of the St Louis/San Jose Western Conference Finals for the Stanley Cup.

Tampa Bay was an excellent defensive team during the season but they completely fell apart in Game Three. It’s easy to point to 21 year old goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy and the 4 goals he allowed but he faced 48 Pittsburgh shots. Despite this, the Penguins led only 1-0 heading into the third period despite Tampa being outshot in the second period by a ridiculous 21-6 margin. Then with the game on the line in the third they get outshot 17-10 on home ice. In fact, Vasilevskiy deserves a medal of valor for keeping his team in a position to win after facing that second period onslaught.

The Bolts had to play on their heels the entire game and put only 28 shots on Pittsburgh rookie netminder Matt Murray. Then again, they were outshot 41-21 in Game Three. Obviously shots on goal is an imperfect metric and at their best Tampa does a good job at preventing odd man rushes and quality scoring chances. But they can’t let Pittsburgh ‘impose their will’ on them and particularly in their own rink. Even if this was their preferred style of play during the season they need to change things up a bit to help Vasilevskiy. Young goalies have a very fragile psyche and I can guarantee you that Vasilivskiy is beating himself up for the 7 goals allowed in Games Two and Three, not thinking about the fact he faced 89 shots in those games.

This is gut check time for Tampa Bay, however, and the reality of the pricing is still there. Tampa is at home in a ‘must win’ situation but instead of that inflating their price the public love for Pittsburgh makes them a good value.