The Tampa Bay Lightning and Chicago Blackhawks have made it to the ultimate round. While the Blackhawks are favored in NHL betting lines to win the Stanley Cup, they find themselves as a road dog in Game 1.
The Chicago Blackhawks Can Win Because…
They have a lot of experience on their side. The Blackhawks have won multiple Stanley Cups with this core team while this experience is mostly new for the Lightning. That’s going to be a significant difference. We saw that in the Western Conference final when it looked like the Blackhawks were down and out multiple times, yet they found ways to win. That’ll be the case here too. Tampa Bay just hasn’t had a taste of this type of action before.
The Lightning have looked quite nervous on their home-ice throughout the playoffs. They are just 5-5 at home so far, which doesn’t indicate a strong home-ice advantage of any sort. And goaltender Ben Bishop has been a bit of a mess recently. Sure, he shut out the Rangers in Game 7 on the road but prior to that game he had allowed 17 goals in the previous four contests. He posted a so-so .902 save percentage in the conference final and if he doesn’t get that number up in the final, him and the Lightning are going to be in trouble…starting with Game 1.
The Tampa Bay Lightning Can Win Because…
They are at home, which contrary to popular opinion, still means something. Yes, these favorites in NHL Odds lost twice at home to the Detroit Red Wings in Round 1 and they lost twice at home again in the Eastern Conference final to the New York Rangers, but even so, this is a team that won more home games in the regular season than any other team. There is no question that they would rather be at home in this spot than on the road.
The other key here is that Chicago would rather not be on the road. So far this post season, the Blackhawks have allowed a whopping 3.44 goals per game in away games. That’s the third-worst number of any of the 16 playoff participants. They only allow 2.38 when at home. At the other end of the ice, they are also scoring just 2.89 on the road compared to the 3.75 they score on the road.
Tampa Bay was embarrassed on their home ice the last time they played there, losing 7-3 in Game 6 to the Rangers. Expect a much better effort from them in this spot.
I’m going to be taking the Blackhawks with my NHL picks in Game 1 expecting a split in the first two games – at the very least. If they win Game 1, we’ll make adjustments for Game 2. If they lose Game 1, I’ll be right back on them for Game 2 since they are a dog in both games.
The Lightning do have home-ice advantage but it hasn’t proven to be a significant one so far. Take the Blackhawks for your NHL pick here.
NHL Pick: Blackhawks at GT Bets