In the Stanley Cup finals, after two games, the Vancouver Canucks looked like they were in the driver’s seat. After two more games, the Boston Bruins have taken the wheel.
Back home for Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Finals, it’s time for the Canucks to make
adjustments. They’ll need the first goal – or just a goal period – to break the
Bruins momentum, but if they can get ahead and use their speed to dominate,
they just might edge ahead to a 3-2 series lead.
The Boston Bruins
Can Win Because…
Momentum is completely on their side.
If you take a snapshot of the first four games of the
series, the Bruins have lost the two games in Vancouver by a hair but have
dominated the other two games Boston. Had it not been for a couple of lazy
plays in the first two games, Boston could easily be up 3-1 or could be
drinking form the Cup already.
The Bruins have been extremely physical in Games 3 and 4,
and have pushed around the Canucks all over the ice. That has thrown the
Canucks off their rhythm and it has created far more offensive opportunities
for the Bruins.
The Canucks defense is out of sync right now with Dan
Hamhuis out and Aaron Rome suspended. Beyond that, the Bruins – and the
Vancouver media – is in Roberto Luongo’s head and Tim Thomas is in the Canucks
Quite literally, everything is going Boston’s way right
now. Case and point: the Bruins lose a top-line player like Nathan Horton and
it actually has a positive effect on the team. They need to keep it up and just
take their performances from Games 1 and 2 one step further in Game 5.
Canucks Can Win Because…
They are going to have some more time to get their
defense in order.
For the last couple of games, the Canucks have been
mixing and matching defensive pairings and injuries and suspensions have cost
them. When Aaron Rome was thrown out in Game 3, the Canucks were left a man
short in the rotation.
In Game 4, Keith Ballard filled in but with Dan Hamhuis
still out, the Canucks blue liners had to get adjusted with their new partners.
That has led to plenty of defensive lapses and plenty of Bruins goals. With a
day off to get things sorted, the Canucks won’t be as sloppy.
On offense, the Canucks must – and will – find a way to
beat Tim Thomas. Right now, the pressure is mounting with each shot as he’s in
their head a little bit but as soon as they get one past him, it will relieve
that tension. The Canucks can take solace in the fact that Thomas has played
better at home all season long (1.85 GAA) versus on the road (2.15 GAA).
The Canucks were the best home team in the NHL all season
long, they won the Presidents’ Trophy too. They have this advantage and
they’ll put it to good use on Friday.
Outlook & NHL
The Canucks might win this game, but laying this much
juice given the situation is complete lunacy. NHL odds are listing Vancouver as -175 favorites tonight with the total set at 5.
For anyone who has actually
watched this series over the last two games – or even the first two games – knows
that the Canucks shouldn’t be favored by this much.
Without momentum, potentially without their shutdown
defenseman again, with a track record of being mentally frail in the playoffs,
you’d have to be second-guessing yourself if you were betting Vancouver at all
– let alone laying juice in the neighborhood of -175.
Sometimes, you have to look at betting from an investment
standpoint. The Bruins may or may not win Game 5, but they offer great value
that you have to take advantage of. I was in a similar situation when making my NHL betting prediction for Game 4, where both teams appeared to have equal chances. I decided to side with momentum and the Bruins, and I was rewarded. Tonight I am going on a similar hunch as I am backing Boston.
Keep in mind that Vancouver is good enough to win Games 6
and 7 even if they lose Game 5. For now, bet the Bruins with the pretty payout
and hope for them to win what figures to be a coin flip affair in Game 5.