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NHL Stanley Cup Picks — Tampa Bay-Colorado Game 2: Lightning’s Vasilevskiy needs more help

2022 Stanley Cup Finals

Will Tampa Bay Step up in Game 2 of the Stnaley Cup Finals

By Charles Jay

We will give our Game Two Stanley Cup Finals picks later int the article. I’m pretty certain there weren’t many people who thought Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy was going to allow the Colorado Avalanche to score two goals in the first ten minutes of the Stanley Cup finals.

And it may have been unnerving for Lightning fans that after battling back from two goals down, they were able to knot things up, only to see the Avs tally the winner in overtime before fans had a chance to settle into their seats after the intermission. ”

But BetAnySports patrons can most likely count on some thrills and chills as Game 2 commences at the Ball Arena in Denver. They will drop the puck at around 8 PM ET, and it’s televised nationally by ABC.

NHL Stanley Cup Picks — The initial outlook

The consensus among most people, even some of the Tampa Bay players, was that Colorado came into the finals as the best team in the NHL. Not only did they tear through their playoff competition, winning twelve out of 14 games, but they did so while undergoing a goalie change. Darcy Kuemper got hurt and was replaced by Pavel Francouz, who went 6-0 with a .906 save percentage. Kuemper, who is the Avs’ #1 goalie, was tabbed by coach Jared Bednar to start Game 1.

So you could have looked at it in two ways – that Colorado is at a disadvantage to Vasilevskiy, who has few peers in the NHL, or that they have two goaltenders who are capable of carrying them to the Cup.

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NHL Stanley Cup Picks — Here are the numbers…….

In the odds that have been posted at BetAnySports on Game 2, Colorado is favored:

Colorado Avalanche -150
Tampa Bay Lightning +130

Over 6 Goals  -110
Under 6 Goals -110


And on the puck line….

Avalanche -1.5 Goals +170
Lightning +1.5 Goals  -200


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NHL Stanley Cup Picks — Defense needed

For Vasilevskiy, who had a 2.24 goals against average and .925 save percentage in 93 playoff games coming into this series, to be very successful, he is going to have to get a better performance from his defense, which allowed the Avs to grab too many odd-man rushes and sit in front of the net.

Part of this involves the “stopper” line anchored by Anthony Cirelli, recognized as one of the best defensive forwards in the NHL. It is considered advantageous for a team to have better than a 50% Corsi figure (indicative of control of the puck). In the case of Colorado’s top line (centered by Nathan MacKinnon), they had a monstrous 85.71 Corsi number against Cirelli’s line on even strength situations, with an 18-3 edge in shot attempts. And that should be unacceptable to Lightning coach Jon Cooper.

NHL Stanley Cup Picks — A “Point” worth making

The Lightning are looking for some kind of spark to come from Brayden Point. He’s not the captain, but he is said to be a big part of the machinery that has gotten Tampa Bay where it is right now. And his playoff bona fides are well-established, as he scored 14 goals in each of the last two post-seasons. Point is also a cog on the power play, where the Bolts have now failed in seven straight opportunities.

During the series against the Rangers, there was always the promise of Point coming back from his lower-body injury, but he wasn’t considered ready. And in that tough situation, where Tampa Bay fell behind by two games, if he was ready he would have played.

He did return for Game 1 on Wednesday, and got to play 18 minutes, even getting an assist. So there was some inspiration there for the Lightning. Now they have to see if he can be a more assertive player on the ice. If he becomes that, this adds an interesting angle for Colorado to deal with.

NHL Stanley Cup Picks — Some historical precedent, and a trend worth considering

First, let’s say that the Lightning can’t let Vasilevskiy be exposed to 38 shots on goal again. As we said before, they need defense. And although this is not a big sample, we can tell you that there are four other teams in NHL history who have gone down 0-2 in both the conference final and the Cup final, and none of those teams came back to ultimately win.

When a team wins back-to-back Stanley Cup, the subject of resiliency has to be looked at. And as they have rolled to those titles, and into this final series, they have won 19 of 20 games when coming off a defeat. We kind of like that, as we take the price with the defending champs.


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