Stanley Cup picks: 4 bets for Avalanche vs Lightning Game 4
Andrew Berkshire provides his best NHL picks and predictions for Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final between the Tampa Bay Lightning and Colorado Avalanche.
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The fight we were waiting to see from the Tampa Bay Lightning finally appeared in Game 3, with a dominant first period leading to a big game and a big win from the reigning Stanley Cup Champions. Not only did the Lightning make the series interesting again after it was beginning to look like a blowout, they also handed Colorado their first loss on the road of the postseason, bringing the Avs to a 14-3 record in the playoffs. Can they duplicate that effort tonight? Let’s find out.
The Lightning were way better at home in Game 3 than they were in the first two games on the road, but even in that game the Avalanche were the better team at even strength by the flow of play. Darcy Kuemper just couldn’t find pucks. In fact, despite a shutout in Game 2, Kuemper’s save percentage at 5-vs-5 in this series is 78.4 per cent, and his save percentage on high danger chances is just 45.5 per cent. That’s not even close to good enough, even in a small sample.
But even with Kuemper playing that poorly, the Avalanche have been by far the better team in this series, controlling over 64 per cent of the expected goals at 5-vs-5. Add to that a series of injuries the Lightning suffered in Game 3, and I lean Colorado here.
One sure thing in every game so far has been a hot start from the Avs. Using their speed and intense forecheck, they’ve continually caught the Lighting off guard at the start of games.
Even after having a goal called back in Game 3, the Avalanche continued to press and eventually scored first on a powerplay goal from Gabriel Landeskog, the only difference was this time they weren’t able to build on it.
Three games into a series where Colorado has scored 13 goals, and Nathan MacKinnon has just two assists. It’s a pretty big surprise that MacKinnon has struggled so mightily to get on the scoresheet, especially considering his incredible playoff production overall, but even more so when you look at his play in this series.
No player on either team has put as many shot attempts toward the net as MacKinnon has (32), or as many shots on goal (14). MacKinnon also leads both teams in scoring chances (19), but is yet to score.
On a team that is so offensively dominant, and needs a rebound game, expect MacKinnon to break through.
With Nazem Kadri still questionable, Compher continues to play a very big role for the Avalanche. Even if Kadri does play, he'll likely be unable to play the game we’re used to from him.
With nine shots on goal through three games, it’s a bit of a surprise that the betting line for Compher is set at just 1.5 shots for Game 4, but he was held without a shot in Game 2.
The underrated American forward has stepped up big time with Kadri out, and I think he’ll continue to play a critical role even if Kadri is back in the lineup. Two shots just isn’t much to ask for.