NHL Betting: Can Lightning Prosper without Bishop?
At what point do they stop being considered underdogs? The Tampa Bay Lightning opened at +130 to beat the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2015 Stanley Cup Finals, but after two games in Tampa, it’s all tied up at one game apiece. The Lightning are also +150 underdogs at press time for Monday’s pivotal Game 3 (8:00 PM ET, NBCSN) in Chicago.
Give how close this series has been – and how profitable the Lightning have been up to this point – fading Chicago on Monday’s puck line is worth some consideration. Tampa Bay is third on the postseason money charts at 12-10 ATS and 4.32 betting units in the black. The favored Blackhawks are a bit further behind in sixth at 11-8 ATS and plus-1.21 units. The Hawks will be laying the customary 1.5 goals at home in Game 3; if they can beat Tampa Bay by two goals or more, they’ll pay out at +195.
Easier said than done. It hasn’t happened so far in this series – both games were decided by a single goal, with Chicago (–110 on the closing line) taking the opener 2-1 and Tampa Bay (–135) responding with a 4-3 victory in Game 2. It didn’t happen during the regular season either, as the two teams split their two games home-and-home.
Winning a playoff game by two goals is hard enough as it is, but the Lightning have made it even more difficult: they’re 13-9 in the postseason, and only five of those losses were by more than one goal. Ben Bishop (.918 save percentage) has done his part, blanking the chalky New York Rangers twice in the Eastern Final, and the rest of the Bolts are fourth in playoff scoring at 2.73 goals per game, one spot behind Chicago at 3.21 goals.
Bishop Takes Bench?
There’s something strange going on with Bishop, though. He left Saturday’s Game 2 at 7:17 of the third period, came back less than two minutes later, then left again for good with 7:41 remaining in regulation. Back-up Andrei Vasilevskiy (.918 SV% during the regular season) stopped all five shots he faced to earn his first career playoff victory.
So what happened? The Lightning refuse to tell anyone, nor has there been any indication at press time whether Bishop or Vasilevskiy will start between the pipes in Game 3. (Bishop did participate in this morning’s skate, but no indication was given as to if he would be starting for tonight’s game) This is too important of a matter to brush aside. The 20-year-old rookie has played well since his rise from the Russian national team, but he is an unknown commodity compared to Bishop, who was a Vezina Trophy finalist last year. The uncertainty alone could be enough to make Chicago worth following in Game 3 – on the moneyline, at least, where the Hawks are pegged as –170 favorites.
Looking for a reputable site to bet sports online? Get independent sportsbook reviews from a fellow sports bettor, here.