NHL Hockey Betting: Tampa Bay Lightning at Montreal Canadiens

NHL Hockey Betting:  Tampa Bay Lightning at Montreal Canadiens&h=235&w=320&zc=1

It’ll be a ‘contrast in styles’ as the Montreal Canadiens welcome the Tampa Bay Lightning to the Bell Centre to begin their Eastern Conference Semifinal Series. The Lightning were the #1 offense in the NHL this season, averaging 3.16 goals per game. The Montreal Canadiens had the #1 scoring defense in the NHL this season allowing only 2.24 goals per game. For that reason, much of this series comes down to which team can ‘impose their will’ on the other and execute their style to facilitate the game tempo and style that they prefer.

The flip side of this ‘contrast in styles’ coin–both teams have serious liabilities that play into the strength of their opponent. We’ll start with Tampa Bay–they almost threw away a great regular season and at times were badly outplayed by the Detroit Red Wings in the opening round. The Red Wings’ defense didn’t give up anything to the Lightning offense and Petr Mrazek was superb between the pipes for Detroit. A bigger problem for Tampa is the disappearance of leading scorer Steven Stamkos. Stamkos has 0 goals and 3 assists in his first seven playoff games. Even that meager statline doesn’t reflect how poorly he’s played. Two of his three assists came in the first two games of the series meaning that he’s got 1 assist in his past five games. He had a total of five shots on goal in the last two games of the Detroit series. If he doesn’t get on track the Canadiens will win this series.

But now the Canadiens–they’ve been struggling to score goals throughout the postseason. They weren’t a great offensive team during the regular season but after putting up decent numbers in the first two games of the Ottawa series they’ve scored five goals in four games. Were it not for the exceptional goaltending of Carey Price they’d be watching the rest of the Stanley Cup Playoffs on television. The Habs are giving up too many shots and expecting Price to save them while the Bolts aren’t getting enough shots and putting all of the pressure on their mediocre defense in front of Ben Bishop. Montreal has home ice advantage and the best goalie in hockey. That should be enough to get them through to the conference finals.


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