Will Lightning Strike in Game 4, or Will Avalanche Bury Dreams of a Three-Peat?

NHL Jun 22, 2022

Monday night's huge 6-2 win by Tampa Bay was an epic counterpunch. Now, the 2022 Stanley Cup Finals may be headed to the drama-filled matchup we all expected.

Picking a side seems really tough.  After all, is there any way of knowing which two teams will show up?  However, we do have an opinion on the total. Read our O/U pick here (below).

Now, it's on to Game 4.

Prior to Monday night's huge win by the Tampa Bay Lightning, there was widespread fear this year's Stanley Cup Finals might turn into a lopsided bore.

Unless you're a rabid Colorado Avalanche fan (or bet on them), the NHL championship series appeared to be headed towards a possible sweep, with little drama.  Nothing against the Avs who would take a series win any way they can get it.  But, most of us want more games and memorable moments.  After all, who doesn't love playoff hockey to take us to the limit, with the best stars in the world all shining on hockey's biggest stage, and (if we're really lucky) the drama of a Game 7?

Well, that's a prospect back on the table now.  It's a real possibility after the two-time and reigning Stanley Cup champions rebounded from a humiliating 7-0 loss in Game 2 in Denver, and nearly reversed the ass-kicking with a 6-2 victory on their home ice.

What's been interesting about this series is how quickly momentum has shifted. After it looked like Colorado might be headed for a 4-0 sweep, the tenor of the championship series has now totally shifted, and even brought on a goaltending controversy for the Avs.

What a huge response in Game 3 from the back-to-back Stanley Cup champions now seeking a three-peat. The Lightning defended to their usual high standards, limiting their opponent to 2 goals or fewer at home for the sixth consecutive game. Tampa Bay also got star performances from their top players -- including Stamkos, Victor Hedman, Ondrej Palat and Nikita Kucherov had multipoint games, while goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy had 37 saves.

This win was critical for Tampa Bay. Only five times in NHL history has the defending Stanley Cup champion trailed 3-0 in a best-of-seven playoff series. None came back to win, and four of the five series ended in a sweep.

Now, it's a series again -- and an exciting, and unpredictable series, as well.

At Spreads.ca, the odds have shifted in the Avalanche's favour for Game 4, which is Wednesday night.

Game 3 was close to a pick'em, but Game 4 shows Colorado getting more respect and money.

Another surprise is the game total lowered to 5.5 goals.  Since all three games saw 7+ goals scored, it's mystifying to see the O/U drop from 6 goals (on each of the last three games) down to 5.5.  Presumably, the public believes crunch time will bring out the best in goaltenders.  But we don't see it.  More about this in our prediction forecast (below).

The puck drops in Game 4 on Wednesday night in Tampa Bay. Starting time is 8:00 pm EST.

Here's a look at the odds at Spreads.ca:

Prediction (powered by Pointspreads.ca):

Picking a side seems really tough.  After all, is there any way of knowing which two teams will show up.  Just when one team seems dominant, the other roars back and reverses the momentum.

The Over has hit in all three games so far, but sportsbooks are mostly on the low side of 6 (juiced to the under), while Spreads.ca was one of the maverick books to open at 5.5 (juiced to the over).  Even in both of the one-sided games, there has been plenty of scoring – with 7, 7, and 8 goals scored, respectively.

The series has seen 22 goals on 178 total shots, which works out to a shooting percentage of 12 percent — slightly above the league-average at 10 percent.  

In goal, Vasilevskiy finally stepped up in Game 3 but still got burned two times on the power play.  Colorado's power play changes the complexity of the game, as the Bolts should be afraid to take penalties.  On the road this postseason, the Avs’ power plays are scoring at an incredible 43 percent.

In Games 1 and 2, Tampa managed to score nine goals on Kuemper in just 55 shots.  If Bednar starts him, we’ll be thrilled to ride the Over 6 at its current price. However, a Francouz start would slightly downgrade this play.

Tampa is also showing some life offensively at home, which combined with Colorado's obvious scoring prowess points to an over.  The Colorado offense is simply too good and its goaltending is sub-par this late in the postseason.

So, give us the fourth straight over in the series, especially at 5.5.  At 6, this prospect isn't nearly as strong.