NHL Hockey Betting: Tampa Bay Lightning at Pittsburgh Penguins

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

There might not be any Canadian teams in the Stanley Cup Playoffs this year but at least those of us ‘North of the Border’ have a rooting interest. Canada’s National Team captain Sidney Crosby and his Pittsburgh Penguins are still in the hunt and on Friday they’ll begin their best of seven Eastern Conference Finals series by hosting the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Penguins needed six games to dispatch the President’s Cup Trophy winning Washington Capitals while Tampa Bay needed only five games to take care of the New York Islanders.

The Penguins have been the hottest team in the NHL since the stretch run of the regular season. Pittsburgh won 14 of their last 16 regular season games and have won 8 of 11 playoff games. That’s 22 wins in 27 games–not bad for a team that limped out of the starting game this season. Making this run all the more impressive is the fact that they did much of it without starting goalie Marc-Andre Fleury. Fleury suffered his second concussion of the season late in the campaign and has been sidelined ever since. He’s ready to return but has found himself on the bench due to the stellar play of 21 year old rookie goaltender Matt Murray. Murray has won 7 of his 9 playoff starts after putting up a 9-2-0 record in the regular season along with a 2.00 goals against average.

Tampa Bay has their own top flight goalie in Ben Bishop. The massive 6’7″ Bishop has very quietly had a career season. That hasn’t been lost on the league who has named Bishop as one of the three finalists for the Vezina Trophy along with Braden Holtby and Jonathan Quick. The Lightning have put up the second best team goals against average during the playoffs at 1.89 goals per game. The only team with a better team goals against average is the Washington Capitals and they’ll be watching the rest of the playoffs on television.

Price on this game doesn’t reflect how evenly matched these teams are. Tampa Bay didn’t have a great road record during the regular season but they won two games in overtime in Brooklyn during their previous series. We’ll likely take the underdog throughout this series starting with Tampa Bay here.


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