This is where many of the pundits and betting public had this series at. Now can Chicago Blackhawks finally finish off the Tampa Bay Lightning, or does this series actually go the distance? There are certain trends that have been established worth considering here.
Those Betting Trends Are What They Are
Chicago for prop betting dominates faceoffs early on in games. The Blackhawks used this to full effectiveness during Game 5 to build a dominant opening twenty minutes and a 1-0 lead. They did get a break because of a bit of Tampa miscommunication. However, they were rewarded justly for dominating the period. Gift cards will be sent to Victor Hedman and Ben Bishop.
Predictably Tampa Bay tied up the game because no team can have a two-goal lead in this series. Then Antoine Vermette surprised everyone off a nice feed by Kris Versteeg to score the eventual game winner.
The duo had worked well with Teuvo Teravainen all night and it was really the bottom-six that carried Chicago in Game 5 from start to finish.
Chicago’s Low-Scoring Strategy
The Blackhawks cannot slug it out with Tampa at this point. The more Chicago possesses the puck, the more they keep it away from Tampa. Even though the Lightning have key injuries at least to Tyler Johnson and Nikita Kucherov, they are still a dangerous team.
Johnson has been able to generate a few chances here and there, but he is hobbled on faceoffs and in the defensive zone. You can see it and this plays right into Chicago’s hands. Tampa is better defensively than people think and if they do not lift the tempo, Chicago does not have to at all.
The pressure shifts in Game 6 a bit to Chicago, but they know they can win in Tampa Bay. If they keep the score pretty low, that favors the Blackhawks under normal circumstances. Give Corey Crawford credit as well as he stopped all but one of the 32 shots fired his way in Game 5.
For the most part the Chicago goalie has been steady for the betting masses in this series and most importantly healthy.
Chicago is doing this with a team effort defensively and being able to suppress shots in less dangerous areas more often than not. It has not been a perfect strategy as Tampa is typically able to generate time and chances late in periods, especially in the third period. Yet somehow in three of these games the Blackhawks have found the magic recipe to seal wins.
Early Betting Lines And The Bear
At least there is a little less conflict here, but that Chicago money line shot all the way up to a whopping -170. Clearly bookies are betting on the demise of Tampa Bay and the betting world seems to be following suit. It is also not a surprise that the over/under has slid back to five since Chicago is tending towards less and less offensive might and their special teams is more concerned with the penalty kill doing its job which it has rather well in the last few games.
Vegas Insider has the latest and later on Monday we will have the latest betting odds on Twitter but one thing is certain. Tampa is going to come out firing. They have to find a way to shift the defense to offense basically to give Bishop a rest but also their defense which would rather generate the play than be stifled. Chicago obviously has the same goal but the quirky thing of this series is Chicago has done this just enough in the critical moments to win. Tampa has had the slightly better of the play, but the Blackhawks are still in the driver’s seat.
The puck line is right around 200, which is a pretty low number. Bookies are trying to entice betting people and lure them in when the numbers do not dictate it. Tampa would be the safe plus play here as a pretty solid hedge.
Betting Judgment Time
As we alluded to above, the plan was to pick Chicago in six and there will not be a deviation from that. So take Chicago and the money line but maybe hedge the puck line and attempt the under even if it stays at five. Good luck and thanks for reading!