The Colorado Avalanche are only one victory away from raising the Stanley Cup above their heads for the first time in 21 seasons. Up 3-1 in the finals, the Avs have the defending champions looking frustrated and worn out. Will the Avalanche bury the Lightning tonight and extinguish their two-year reign, or might this be the start of an epic Tampa Bay comeback?
The 2021-22 NHL season may be down to its last game.
The 2022 Stanley Cup Finals continue Friday night with a potentially historic occasion. The mighty Colorado Avalanche, playing at home, have the golden opportunity to clinch the league championship for the first time since 2001. Colorado hosts the two-time defending champion Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 5. Since the Avalanche lead the series by a 3-1 margin, this becomes a "must win" game for the Lightning.
The Avs won Game 4 in Tampa Bay on Wednesday night in an absolute heartbreaker for the Bolts, prevailing in overtime by a final score of 3-2.
The potential greatness of the Avalanche cannot be overstated. Following a 56-win season, Colorado has been the best team in the 2022 Stanley Cup Finals by a wide margin. Consider that Colorado is 15-3 overall in this year's playoffs, including 8-1 in the last nine games.
Why is this so? Well for one reason – the Avalanche are taking advantage of power plays, going 6-for-13 in such situations against Tampa Bay in this series, converting more than 46 percent of chances. On the other end, the Avs have killed 13 of 14 power plays in the series, raising the team's percentage to 80 percent in the postseason. Anyway you look at it, that's championship-level hockey.
In Tampa Bay's corner, let's remember this team has won 11 straight playoff series. They've also managed to stage several comebacks.
Moreover, Tampa Bay's defense has gradually improved as the series continues. For instance, the Lightning have allowed only two regulation goals in each of the last two games.
This experienced group won't be intimidated by what should be a raucous atmosphere tonight in Denver. The Lightning already came back from a 3-2 series deficit earlier in the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs. But we must admit, the 3-1 hole does seem very deep.
The puck drops tonight in Denver at 6:00 pm MST.
Spreads.ca lists the Avalanche as heavy favourites (invest 1.00 to get back 1.54) which returns 2.55 if you chose to wager on the underdog Lightning.
The O/U is 6 goals, shaded slightly in favour of the under.
Prediction (powered by Pointspreads.ca):
Sportsbooks have made a significant adjustment in the moneyline and puckline following Game 4.
The prevailing viewpoint is that OT loss took the final dose of voltage out of the Lightning.
Colorado closed as small underdogs in Game 4 but are now prohibitive 9:5 favourites just two nights later in Game 5. That's an 85-point swing from venue to venue within 48 hours. Since home ice is usually worth 40 points, this adjustment is substantial.
Value-oriented bettors have reason to bet on Tampa Bay at this price, but we don't like it. Instead, we see Colorado as a tremendous value at 2.37 laying -1.5 on the puckline.
If the Avs do the predictable and win, it should be by 2 goals or more. That's the best value here tonight.