Our resident NHL handicapping professional examines Game 4 of the playoff series between Montreal and Tampa Bay on Thursday. Will the Canadiens be able to avoid being swept by the Lightning?
Lightning Sweep or Canadiens Resiliency on Thursday
The Tampa Bay Lightning will look to close out this playoff series when they host the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday at 7:05 PM ET. According to the NHL betting odds at Wagerweb, Tampa Bay is a -160 money line favorite, and the posted total is 4.5. The Lightning has a commanding 3-0 series lead following a dramatic win last night. Tyler Johnson’s goal with 0:01 to play in the third period enabled Tampa Bay to skate away with a 2-1 win. The Lightning has now defeated the Canadiens in all eight meetings this season.
Tough Luck Habs
The Montreal Canadiens enter tonight with what’s seemingly an insurmountable task at hand. Especially if you consider the fact that only four teams in Stanley Cup Playoff history have been able to overcome a 3-0 series deficit and win. The Canadiens have been a bit unlucky in at least not winning either or both Game 1 and 3. They lost the series opener in double overtime, and then last night had their hearts ripped right out of their chests in an absolute gut wrenching loss. It will be interesting in how they’ll respond tonight after such an emotionally draining setback. The good news about playing on back-to-back nights, they have no choice other than to possess a short memory.
Bishop rules in Goal
Ben Bishop has been outstanding during these 2015 NHL Playoffs. He’s gone 7-3 with a sparkling .937 save percentage, and in his last four starts has compiled an excellent .970. Bishop has outplayed the probable Vezina Trophy winner Carey Price in this series. He’s started in all eight wins versus the Canadiens this season, and has posted a superb 1.43 GAA in doing so. The Lightning has a golden opportunity to close the series out at home tonight where they’ve gone 35-11 since the start of the 2014-2015 NHL campaign.
I’ll certainly be in the vast minority by favoring Montreal’s chances of staying alive with a win tonight. The Canadiens dominated the Lightning for 39 of 40 minutes in the second and third periods of last night’s game. This is a proud team and franchise that won’t concede in any sort of easy fashion. I’m going to have a small lean toward the road underdog for one of my NHL picks on Thursday.
NHL Pick: Montreal +140 on the money line over Tampa Bay at Wagerweb.