The dream Stanley Cup Finals between the two-time defending champion Tampa Bay Lightning and Western Conference juggernaut Colorado Avalanche saw the opening game of the series exceed our expectations – will the epic drama continue in Game 2?
We've seen this happen before with the Tampa Bay Lightning.
They fall behind early in a playoff series, and make some adjustments, and then finally recover and go on to win. The Lightning were shut out in the first playoff series against Toronto, and they even fell behind 2 games to 0 to the NY Rangers, before advancing both times.
Now, here they are once again in a familiar spot after losing a 4-3 heartbreaker in OT at Colorado of the Finals.
Backs against the wall, most teams would consider Game 2 to be a "must-win" in this situation. But not Tampa Bay which has repeatedly shown the capacity to flip a switch and morph into a Stanley Cup champion team in an instant.
That said, one does sense that this opponent is different -- and certainly far more dangerous. The Avalanche continue to put so much pressure and take so many shots on goal that their opposition is quite simply overwhelmed. That happened in Game 1, as Colorado out shot (38-23), out hustled, and often looked like the superior team before a tie sent the game into an extra period.
Saturday night in Denver, we'll see if Colorado can maintain their winning streak and go up by 2 games in the Stanley Cup Finals.
Our Take on What Tampa Bay Must Do
During the 2022 postseason, and for stretches of the regular season, the Lightning adapted a counter attacking style against teams with superior possession skills and shot advantages. The strategy worked against the Maple Leafs and couldn’t have gone any better against the Panthers.
Tampa Bay has demonstrated they can adapt to any style of play. They will have to do precisely that again if they are to have any chance to win the series. Indeed, the Lightning should make things interesting purely on the strength of their goaltending, power play edges, and counter-attacking abilities.
Spreads.ca Lists the Avs as Solid Favourites
The puck drops Saturday at 6:00 pm MST.
Spreads.ca lists the Avs as 1.64 favourites, which comes back on the Lightning at 2.25.
The puckline reveals a consensus view that these games may be close and hard-fought, since the Lightning must lay at hefty price -- they're just 1.47 which returns 2.61 on Colorado.
The first game produced 7 goals, but needed OT to go over the 6 total. Oddsmakers are sticking with 6 as the O/U.
Key Thought: The Avalanche may actually boast more offensive talent than the back-to-back champions, but the Lightning have the better goalie in Andrei Vasilevskiy, who is the best in the NHL at his position and has thrived in the postseason.
Prediction (Powered by Pointspreads.ca):
Three factors sway us to pick the Lightning to win Game 2.
First, Tampa Bay demonstrated they can play with Colorado (a well-rested opponent in Game 1) for the full 60 minutes.
Second, the Lightning are a spectacular 19-1 during the last three seasons after a loss in the postseason.
Third, while the Avalanche certainly deserve to be favoured, we see value with the experienced, often underrated Lightning getting a plus price.
We also like Tampa Bay on the puckline, even though we must lay a heavy price.
We'll call this one 4-3, in an upset win by Tampa Bay to even the series at 1-1.