It’s amazing how quickly your fortunes can turn in the NHL Playoffs. Just a week after defeating the favoured Maple Leafs, the pesky Columbus Blue Jackets are in a daunting 3-1 hole against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Though matching up against a more-skilled opposition has never been an issue for the Jackets, they’re clearly having some trouble and difficulty keeping up with the speed and pace of the Bolts.
Perhaps the Jackets never recovered from the emotional hurdle of that 5OT loss back in Game 1, but this hasn’t been the same Columbus group we saw against the Leafs back in the qualifying round.
Full credit to Tampa Bay however, as they’ve stuck to their gameplan and have proven the evolution and maturity within their game. They’re one of the best teams in the league for a reason and can beat you in a multitude of different ways. Even without Steven Stamkos, their offense hasn’t lacked against a defense-first opponent. They’ve stuck with it and solved the red-hot Joonas Korpisalo in recent games as well.
However, it’s often said that the last win is the toughest one to get – and the Lightning are well-aware of Columbus’ strengths. With the Bolts clearly ailing, finishing this series in 5 games would allow their leaders more time for rest and recovery before their next series. Can they take advantage and close this out? Keep reading on beneath the posted odds for a detailed match breakdown and betting preview. Enjoy Game 5!
Lightning vs. Blue Jackets Betting Odds:
Tampa Bay Lightning (-171)
Columbus Blue Jackets (+154)
Over 5 (-108)
Under 5 (-102)
*Betting odds provided by BetOnline.ag
Lightning vs. Blue Jackets Pick:
Despite Columbus having the reputation as a team that won’t quit and will fight to the end – they looked like a defeated group toward the end of Game 4. This is an exhausted team that entered this series coming off of a gruelling win over the Leafs – and has never recovered. With injuries seeping in and an extreme workload to a relatively unproven Joonas Korpisalo, it’s clearly taken its toll on the young Blue Jackets.
But the Lightning are on a mission for the Stanley Cup and won’t be feeling sorry for anyone – especially Columbus. After being swept by them last year, Tampa has done extremely well to flip the script through four contests. They’ve been faster and more skilled, and have done well to make Columbus’ top dogs on defense work for every inch of ice. Seth Jones and Zach Werenski aren’t having fun playing against Tampa’s skilled and speedy forwards right now.
That has manifested itself within the underlying numbers as well, where this has been quite the one-sided series thus far. Columbus just can’t keep up and clearly doesn’t possess the required depth to skate with the Bolts. Tampa Bay has doubled the Jackets in terms of expected goals at 5v5 and high-danger scoring chances. Overall shots on goal are 329-203 for Tampa Bay, a staggering difference.
The only reason this series isn’t over already, has been the play of Columbus’ relative unknown in goal – Joonas Korpisalo. The Finnish netminder has been dominant between the pipes, but even he is starting to show signs of wearing down. A couple of weak goals have beat him of late, and despite the pesky group he plays behind – the Jackets are showing signs that big-time fatigue has set in.
In Game 5, the Bolts return to being the home side – meaning head coach Jon Cooper can set his matchups as he sees fit. That’s a big advantage in a series like this, especially when Columbus can really only dress one legitimate scoring line and one intimidating defensive pairing. Tampa will completely nullify that – and despite the lofty price in Game 5, expect the Lightning to keep the momentum going into a series victory on Wednesday.
Pick: Lightning 4-1