Last night’s pick was right on the money as the Anaheim Ducks and the Chicago Blackhawks played a very entertaining, albeit low-scoring Game 3 from the United Center in Chicago. The two teams traded goals in the opening period before Simon Despres buried a one-timer from the half boards to give the Ducks a 2-1 lead heading in to the third period. Anaheim would hang on despite a heart-stopping last second chance off the stick of Patrick Kane and they snatched home ice back from the Blackhawks with the 2-1 victory.
My pick of UNDER 5 at a fantastic price of +120 was indeed the right one as this series is turning in to a goaltender’s duel with Frederick Andersen and Corey Crawford essentially matching each other save for save. Chicago is far from out of this series and the Madhouse on Madison will be rocking for Game 4 on Saturday night. We will switch back to the Eastern Conference finals for tonight’s Game 4 pick between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the New York Rangers.
Tampa Bay Lightning @ New York Rangers – Game 4
My Pick – LIGHTNING (-120)
After playing almost exclusively low-scoring games over the course of the first two rounds the New York Rangers have been getting lit up by the Tampa Bay Lightning and have seen their defense-first style of hockey almost disappear in the Eastern Conference finals. The trio of Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat and Nikita Kucherov has absolutely killed the Rangers over the series’ first three games and I am not sure there is a solution for this Rangers team moving forward.
After allowing just one goal in Game 1, Henrik Lundqvist has surrendered 12 goals over the last two games and a balanced Lightning attack that lead the entire league in goals per game in the regular season is at it once again. Steven Stamkos has 11 points over his last eight games while his linemate, Alex Killorn, has five points over his last two games including two goals in Tampa’s 6-5 overtime win on Wednesday night. The aforementioned trio of Johnson, Palat and Kucherov combined to score the other four Lightning goals as Johnson scored his franchise record 12th postseason goal, Palat notched a pair, and Kucherov bagged the overtime winner just over three and a half minutes in to sudden death.
With that in mind, take a look at how the Rangers big guns are fairing. Martin St. Louis has been invisible for the majority of the playoffs as he is yet to score a goal and has just six points in 15 postseason contests, Rick Nash has just two goals and seven points in 15 games, and the Rangers have just two skaters in double-digit points in the postseason compared to six for the Lightning. Tampa Bay seems to have Lundqvist’s number this season as Wednesday night marked the fourth time in the last six games that they have scored at least five goals on him including the regular season. I am not going to predict another track meet like we had in Game 3, however it is really difficult for me to see this Rangers team outscoring Tampa Bay moving forward in the series. Ben Bishop has been great all playoffs long and Tampa Bay’s offensive attack is just so good right now it seems they are destined for glory. Oh, by the way, Tampa Bay was also the league’s best home team in the league this season so that also works well for this pick.
Take the Lightning with confidence tonight to grab a 3-1 series stranglehold heading back to MSG for Game 5 on Sunday.