Our resident NHL handicapping professional is 3-1 during these Stanley Cup Finals, and his 2015 NHL Playoff picks overall are an outstanding 35-22. He provides us with a betting preview article on Game 5 which culminates with a money line selection.
Stanley Cup Finals Game 5
The Lightning and Blackhawks resume their closely contested series on Saturday in Tampa at 8:05 PM ET. According to the opening line at Bookmaker, Tampa Bay was a -120 money line favorite, and the posted total is 5.5. Chicago was able to even the series at 2-2 by virtue of a 2-1 home win on Wednesday. Three of the first four games have stayed under the total, and the teams are 5-1 under the number in their six overall meetings this season.
Cooper’s Comments Leaves Uncertainty
Tampa Bay head coach John Cooper’s postgame press conference following Game 4 shed nothing but confusion regarding his goaltending situation. In one sentence Cooper conveyed that Ben Bishop will start Game 5, and in another statement he indicated that we’ll see Andrei Vasilevskiy once again in this series at some point. Now I don’t claim to be a mind reader or doctor, but there’s some obvious assumptions you can take away from Cooper’s comments. There’s no doubt that whatever injury issue that Bishop is suffering from, it’s leaving him far less than 100%, and you have to question whether he’s physically capable of playing in consecutive games. The 20 year old Vasilevskiy has made a very good account of himself during his two appearances in these Stanley Cup Finals. However, he was only called upon to face 19 shots on goal in Game 4.
Hawks Experience Needed to Regain Control
There’s little question as to which team holds the advantage pertaining to playoff and big game experience. The Blackhawks are playing in their third Stanley Cup Final in the last six years, and have also advanced to the Western Conference Finals in five of the previous seven seasons. Despite a huge edge in that department, you would be hard pressed to say that’s been an apparent factor through the first four games. As a matter of fact, you can make the case that Chicago was outplayed in Game 4, and Tampa Bay could’ve easily swept this series already with a couple of fortunate bounces.
Final Money Line Analysis
After watching the Chicago postgame press conference following their 2-1 win on Sunday, it was quite obvious from listening to, and seeing the Blackhawks players demeanor, they were less than satisfied with their performance despite coming out on top. I just sensed they felt very lucky to win, and knew their performance has to be much better going forward. I do believe Chicago’s vast playoff experience in recent years will pay dividends the rest of the way.
It’s difficult to comprehend that a team which has gone 6-6 at home during the playoffs isn’t only in the Finals, but is also two wins away from capturing the Stanley Cup. Well that’s just the case with Tampa Bay. The Lightning has endured a long hard road this postseason, and Saturday will be their 25th game of the playoffs. Putting that into perspective, the NHL record is 26 by the 2014 Los Angeles Kings. I would have to rationally think at some point that grueling grind will catch up to the Lightening. I’m also very concerned with the instability of their goaltending situation right now.
I’m going to be siding with the road team for one of my NHL picks on Saturday.
NHL Picks: Chicago +109 on the money line over Tampa Bay at Pinnacle