The calm and composed Lightning didn’t feel the pressure on the road in Chicago of game 3 of the Stanley Cup Finals. The injury to Ben Bishop ended up being a moot point as well, putting the Blackhawks down a game in the best of 7 series, 2-1. The Blackhawks have always responded from adversity and played their best hockey with their backs up against the wall. Even if the Lightning win tonight, I don’t believe we can discount the Blackhawks yet, they could very well take three in a row. However, I’m sure of it that the Hawks don’t want to make it that hard on themselves. The Blackhawks can make it a brand new finals with a win tonight, tying it up 2-2 heading back to Tampa Bay. Bishop will have to be the centerpiece of the Lightning again tonight, who for a guy that has never been in a Stanley Cup Finals before, is doing just fine. If the Lightning win the Stanley Cup, one has to assume that it will be between Bishop and Tyler Johnson for MVP, with the edge going to Johnson at this point, of course. But if Bishop can play lights out the rest of the way he’ll have an outside chance.
One thing is for certain with me, picking a side in a Lightning game has been a chore for me. I took the Lightning in game 1 only for them to win the next two in a row. It was like that in their series with the Rangers as well. I felt confident in them, but they’d come up short. The next game they looked like the team I predicted two nights before. It feels like it has been like that with them all season long. Conversely, I have been hitting totals at a high clip in these playoffs. I have pretty well nailed my total picks this season in the postseason, if not, it was a hard loss. I will look at the total tonight for my NHL pick for game 4 of the Stanley Cup Finals.
Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Chicago Blackhawks
The Blackhawks really had that game in front of them on a sliver platter after they made it 2-1. Letting the Lightning respond nearly 10 seconds later is pretty brutal on the Hawks part. The Lightning crashed the crease and were able to muscle the puck past Corey Crawford. You could feel a lot of air go out of the arena after that goal. In a second the Blackhawks looked like they were going to be able to lock the Lightning down and get out of their ahead 2-1 in the series. Not so fast, after that game tying goal the Lightning made it another one with around three minutes remaining to shock the Blackhawks.
Despite a pretty defensive orientated game in game 4, the total still pushed at 5. The Blackhawks, like the Golden State Warriors have looked, appeared to look out of sync and rhythm on offense. I don’t know if the Warriors can find their element and start hitting down some shots, but I think the Blackhawks will come out tonight at home and play inspired hockey. Like I did after a game 1 which was slow, I’m going to respond with a play that predicts more offense tonight. Bishop has been doing it all playoffs: play excellently and then get lit up the next game. He shut the Rangers out last series, and then followed it up by allowing 7 goals. I am not going to touch the side here. The Blackhawks should tie it up, but I don’t want to pay that kind of juice again, because the Lightning are a very good team and them winning wouldn’t shock me either. The only value I find in this game is on the OVER. The total is at 5.5 but with a nice price of +120 I think it is worth a shot that the offenses take charge in game 4 tonight.
PICK: OVER 5.5 GOALS (+120) 5DIMES – BEST ODDS