There is a point in the majority of series where you see a turning point, where the writing is almost right there on the wall. Whether it’s within the first few games, or in Game 7. The Penguins wrote some words of wisdom on the wall in Game 3, staging an impressive showing to grab the series lead, 2-1. Also, Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy added more, as he had a meltdown in net. Think a modern day frustrated Patrick Roy. He had a right to be upset, the Lightning left the entire game in his hands, it wasn’t nearly enough of an effort to offset the Penguins’ vaunted attack. Vasilevskiy was in net stomping his feet on the ice, shaking his head, mouthing off to his defense, and it came to a boiling point when he threw his stick towards his bench following yet another goal. I will say that if it weren’t for Vasilevskiy, the Penguins could have potted 6 or 7 goals.
The Lightning certainly appeared like they were in practice or exhibition mode. It wasn’t really a lack of talent on the Tampa side, rather, they lacked plenty of effort and heart. This is a huge game for them tonight, they’re cooked if they go down by two games in this series. Matt Murray is playing too well, and you have a player like Sidney Crosby who hasn’t even hit his stride yet. When you are a team that is as deep and proficient as the Penguins are, then you don’t need your star players to take the series over. And at the end of the day, the team that is able to do get production out from every line is going to be hoisting the Stanley Cup. The Sharks, I argue, would be in that same category.
Yes, it’s looking like it will be a Penguins and Sharks Stanley Cup Final. However, anything could happen, that much has been proved in the past. Let’s get to our NHL pick for Friday night, which features a pivotal Game 4 between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Tampa Bay Lightning.
Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Tampa Bay Lightning NHL Playoffs Pick
The Penguins were the better team in Game 1 and 2, we went over that in our last article of this series. In Game 3 that dominance was extended against the Lightning in Florida. The Pens outshot the Lightning once again by a margin of 48-28, it wasn’t even close. With that, the Penguins have put 124 on net, compared to 69 for the Lightning. That is called a massacre, yet the series is only 2-1 for the Pens. The Lightning have to say, hey, we’ve gotten our ass kicked up and down the ice all series long, but we’re only one game away from this being a tied series. The body language from the Lightning in Game 2 would indicate they’re down 3-0, but they have to realize this series is still up for grabs.
Ben Bishop is listed as doubtful for tonight, so it looks like Vasilevskiy will get the call again. He is a talented goalie no doubt, but he has to grow up and not point the blame at everyone else. What if he has an awful game tonight? Should the other Lightning players throw their sticks and curse at him? Exhibit number 1 to why you don’t pull what he did in the last game. I think the Lightning will draw something better up tonight, but against a team like the Penguins it isn’t going to be so simple. I don’t know where Vasilevskiy’s head is at right now. The Lightning should get better defense, but he worries me with the Lightning. With Bishop in net I would be all over the Lightning tonight. I instead think there will be some goals scored. I’m not a fan of playing OVER’s this late in the season, but I see the Lightning offense jumping to life tonight, and as far as the Penguins, I don’t know how the Tampa defense is going to slow them down. They are flying and in a groove.
PICK: OVER 5 GOALS (-130)