NHL Hockey Betting: Pittsburgh Penguins at Tampa Bay Lightning

NHL Hockey Betting:  Pittsburgh Penguins at Tampa Bay Lightning

The Tampa Bay Lightning have the Pittsburgh Penguins on the verge of elimination after winning in overtime in Game Five. Pittsburgh went back to Marc-Andre Fleury in net and while he didn’t play badly he only faced 25 shots on goal for the game. He was definitely outplayed by his Tampa Bay counterpart Andrei Vasilevskiy who faced 34 Pittsburgh shots. This is essentially a ‘must win’ situation for both teams. Pittsburgh needs to win to send it home for a Game 7 and Tampa Bay needs to win to avoid that scenario.

It’ll be interesting to see what Mike Sullivan does with the Game 7 goaltending assignment for the Penguins. Sullivan is getting some heat in the media for giving Fleury the start at all. He didn’t look especially sharp and his comments after the game validate that. Fleury said: “It wasn’t the best I’ve felt in a game. Still though, I’ve been practicing a lot. I should’ve been better. … It’s tough to lose.” Maybe he should have been better but was it unrealistic to think he would be? After the game coach Sullivan said that he wanted to ‘review’ Fleury’s performance before assessing it which could be a diplomatic way of saying that he wasn’t pleased.

Murray has been money in the bank throughout the playoffs. He’s had a few shaky moments but so have most goalies at this point. The coach’s job is to give his team the best chance to win and in the view of many–myself included–that chance is with a healthy Matt Murray who has been playing all postseason. Fleury’s biggest problem right now is that he’s ‘rusty’ and a rusty goalie in net with your season on the line doesn’t sound like a good plan.

The valuations in this series are the gift that keeps on giving. If you’ve blindly bet the Lightning in all five games you’re up +2.7 units. And the oddsmakers are giving us another shot at taking Tampa as a home dog. The rationale for having Pittsburgh as a -140 favorite is that they’re in a ‘must win’ situation. In theory, you want to be on the other side of teams like that. Not sure there’s less urgency for Tampa Bay and we’re getting value.