NHL Hockey Betting: Tampa Bay Lightning at Pittsburgh Penguins

NHL Hockey Betting:  Tampa Bay Lightning at Pittsburgh Penguins

Back to Pittsburgh and the Eastern Conference Finals are tied at two games apiece. The Tampa Bay Lightning played great hockey through forty minutes leading 4-0 after two periods. They thought they could ‘phone in’ the third period but instead they had to withstand a fierce Pittsburgh rally but were able to hold on for a 4-3 victory. They hung Andrei Vasilevskiy out to dry in the final twenty minutes as the Penguins outshot the Lightning 16-7 but his 35 saves for the game were enough to earn him the third star. There’s now a bit of intrigue surrounding the Pittsburgh goaltending assignment but more about that in a moment.

The pricing on this series remains completely inexplicable. The Penguins were a -150 road favorite last time out and are the biggest chalk they’ve been all series for Game Five. Pittsburgh has been installed as a whopping -210 favorite. The Penguins have been a ‘public’ team for years but I had no clue that they were a ‘public’ team of this degree. And now they have goaltending issues. Matt Murray was pulled after the second period after allowing four goals. It might have been done for his own sanity as he’d already faced 30 shots at that point. Marc-Andre Fleury saw his first action since his late season concussion and played pretty well making 7 saves on 7 shots. Of course Tampa Bay was playing their ‘prevent defense’ by that point and the Penguins playing like crazed weasels. So which goalie does Pittsburgh go with? No clue, but there will be plenty of chatter about this prior to Game Five.

Nothing new in terms of our handicap. All series long we’ve been taking the value on Tampa Bay and there’s no reason not to do the same thing here. The Lightning are 10-4 in the playoffs yet they are more than 2/1 underdogs to the Penguins? Like we’ve said all along this series is at worst a 50/50 proposition. Nothing has happened since Game One that justifies the Penguins being this big a chalk–nothing other than public perception. But as long as the bookmakers keep hanging these big prices on Tampa Bay we’ll keep taking them.