Stanley Cup Finals — Game 5: If They Play Wednesday…Can’t Buck the Bolts

Can Tampa Bay Close out the Stanley Cup Finals?

By Charles Jay

If you’re a fan of the Tampa Bay Lightning, maybe you’re thinking that you really let one slip away in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Finals. But that would be kind of a longshot. For the Montreal Canadiens to be putting together a four-game comeback after losing the first three games would require a Herculean effort.

Now, the Lightning will attempt to close things out. And it could happen at home, which would apparently please Tampa mayor Jane Castor to no end, enough that she doesn’t even seem to care whether fans are able to get out of their houses to come to the game.

With a major storm having hit by that time, Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Finals is slated for 8:05 PM ET at the Amalie Arena.

Stanley Cup Finals – The numbers, as posted at BetAnySports

Tampa Bay Lightning -225
Montreal Canadiens +185

Lightning -1.5 Goals +125
Canadiens +1.5 Goals  -145

Over 5 Goals -125
Under 5 Goals +105

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Stanley Cup Finals – Game 5: Will it happen?

Before going any further, it would be fair to examine the weather situation.

There’s been a bit of a twist to the proceedings, as Elsa, which had been expected to be a tropical storm, was upgraded to a hurricane late Tuesday. The aforementioned Castor expressed that one way or another, Game 5 will go forward. We’re not sure that’s ultimately her call, but if Elsa hits with any level of force, fans are not only going to have a near-impossible time fighting their way through floods to get to the game, but due to possible power outages, they might not be able to even see it on television.

On Wednesday morning, there were reports that Elsa had been downgraded again to a tropical storm, which doesn’t mean there won’t be damage anyway.

Stanley Cup Finals – Tampa Bay’s lost opportunities

The Lightning came into this series with a power play that had produced just under 38% throughout the playoffs. But Montreal hada very formidable penalty killing unit, which had gone 13 straight games without allowing a power play goal.

The Bolts have gotten through for a pair of power play goals. But the Canadiens, with their backs to the wall on Monday night, killed off four power plays. And that included a scary four-minute man disadvantage, when Shea Weber had to go off with 1:01 remaining in regulation. That meant the Habs had to proceed one man down for 2:59 into the overtime.

Well, not only did they kill that off, they had a real chance for a short-handed goal. Maybe that was a good omen for what happened a little later, as Josh Anderson, a player who often injects some genuine energy into the lineup, missed on a break, then came back into the play from beyond the goal line to shoot it by Andrei Vasilevskiy for the winner. Final score = 3-2.

Stanley Cup Finals – Montreal hardly imposing

The thing about Game 4 was that the Canadiens look as if they were in “bend but not break” mode. And you have to wonder how long a team can sustain that until they do indeed break.

Consider a few things: the Habs had only 21 shots on goal on Monday, compared to 34 for Tampa Bay. There was nothing even slightly deceptive about that. For example, when you take the “Corsi For” metric, which, in general, measures the kind of control one team has over the other, including creating offensive opportunities in the other team’s end, Tampa Bay had a figure of 59.8%, which demonstrates a real advantage for the Lightning.

And these kinds of numbers trickled all the way down to the fourth line of Pat Maroon, Tyler Johnson and Mathieu Joseph, which had a 64.7% Corsi in Game 4. At the well-regarded analytics site Money Puck, Tampa Bay was 84.8% on their “Deserve to Win O’Meter.”

Stanley Cup Finals – Habs’ defensive shortcomings

Montreal was deemed to be “more physical” in Game 5, although Tampa Bay actually had more “hits” when everything was counted up (36-35).

When you look at some of the above metrics, you have to conclude that the Canadiens have a long way to go to play on even terms with this opponent. And if you were backing the Habs, you had to be scared about several high-risk chances where the Bolts had missed. And that included Nikita Kucherov hitting the post from point-blank range standing all alone in front of Carey Price (who incidentally flashed his playoff form).

Jeff Petry committed an outright giveaway that led to a Tampa Bay goal. And there was no excuse for rookie defenseman Alexander Romanov allowing Pat Maroon to get behind him for another tally.

Stanley Cup Finals – Conclusion

We just can’t bring ourselves to backing Montreal. So whether this game is played on Wednesday,or has to be delayed a day or two, we’d look for the Bolts to create a margin and wi the Cup.

TAMPA BAY -1.5 GOALS (+125)

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