Capitals vs Lightning – NHL Game 7 Pick for May 23rd
There’s nothing more exciting than a Game 7 in sports, especially hockey. The winner of this “do or die” game will head to the Stanley Cup Finals and face the Vegas Golden Knights. The Capitals won Game 6 at home by a score of 3-0 and look to upset the Lightning in Tampa Bay for Game 7. However, I’m having a hard time seeing that happening. In fact, I feel that Tampa coasted through Game 6 in order to be ready for Game 7 and clinch the series at home.
Tampa Bay is 5-2 all-time in Game 7’s with a 3-0 home record during that span. Washington is 4-11 all-time in Game 7’s with a 1-3 road record during that span. Furthermore, the team that won Game 5 (Tampa Bay in this series) has gone on to win a 7 game series roughly 80% of the time (215-55). Both of these statistical categories favor the Lightning.
Washington hasn’t been to the Stanley Cup Finals since 1998, which means this could be the first time in Ovechkin’s tenure. Tampa was in the finals just a few years ago. They’ve also been in two Game 7’s since that Stanley Cup run.
The Capitals were a much more intense and aggressive team in Game 6 as they outshot (34-24) and outhit (39-19) the Lightning. In fact, for the series, Washington has outshot Tampa 209-145 and outscored them 19-15. For the Capitals to win Game 7, they will need to continue this statistical advantage and rely on their big guns to lead the charge like Ovechkin, Backstrom and Kuznetsov who has dominated this series. In 6 games, Kuznetsov has scored 4 goals, tallied 5 assists and has a whopping 29 shots on goal.
For the Lightning to win Game 7, they will need goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy to outplay Washington’s goalie Braden Holtby. For the series, Vasilevskiy has a 3.19 gaa and .910 save percentage. Holtby has a .907 save percentage and a 2.39 gaa. However, in the 3 games that Tampa won this series, Andrei allowed 2 goals per game and stopped 100 of 106 shots for a .943 save percentage.
Vasilevskiy did everything he could to win Game 6 for Tampa, as he only gave up 2 of the 3 goals scored and stopped 31 of 33 shots. Unfortunately, his teammates failed to generate any offense. In fact, their two top scorers (Kucherov and Stamkos) combined for just 2 shots on net in Game 6. All that needs to change in Game 7 in order for the Lightning to win. Stamkos has 4 goals this series and he will be called upon to generate some offense for the Lightning’s top line. It should be noted that all 5 of Stamkos and Kucherov’s combined goals have come on the power play. So, either Tampa will need to generate more power plays or they will need to generate more 5-on-5 scoring opportunities.
Tampa has been abysmal against the spread in the playoffs and against Washington, so we’re going to avoid that one. Although it could be argued that the spread favors the Capitals, at -240, it’s not providing any value. Not to mention, each game’s winner has covered the spread in this series. The total has been difficult to pinpoint as well. So, the best bet here is with the moneyline.
Tampa Bay went 35-13-2 at home this year and 55-25-4 as the favorite. They’re 7-3 SU over the last 10 games and 8-3 SU in their last 11 home games. Vasilevskiy is 32-12 at home and 3-1 in his last 4 games.
Although Washington has some impressive road stats in the playoffs, I feel that the Lightning’s recent experience and success in Game 7’s will give them the advantage over Washington.
Bet: Tampa Bay Lightning (-141)
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