5-23-18 3:50pm EST
Wales Conference Final: Lightning -145 vs. Capitals +125
Welcome to the Wales Conference’s game seven where tonight’s winner will receive the Prince of Wales Trophy and four days of rest before having to turn around and either host the Golden Knights (should the Lighting win) or travel to sin city (should the Capitals prevail) for The Stanley Cup Final game one. Here’s how I break down this game seven.
Vasilevskiy 2.55 GAA .920% Holtby 2.16 GAA .919%
By the numbers these two netminders are playing similarly outstanding playoff hockey as anything above .915 as a save percentage in the playoffs is outstanding. The Lightning turned to a younger more athletic Andei Vasilevskiy a few years ago for this reason and because of his youth, athleticism and durability. He’s responded by playing sound, fundamental hockey.
Holtby had an unusually poor regular season and actually started these playoffs on the pine watching backup netminder Grubauer drop two games to the Blue Jackets before Coach Trotz inserted Holtby back into the lineup. Holtby has been superb since gaining his starting position back but has had troublesome games against these Lightning. It’s clear after a closer look that the main reason for this has been a lack of sound, physical defense in front of the netminder as opposed to any futility on Holtby’s part. Holtby’s playing with a chip on his shoulder and a single-minded purpose which goes a long way in explaining his excellence this post season. It looks to me like he wants another shot at his old nemesis Marc-Andre Fleury.
Tampa has been playing bend but don’t break hockey in front of Vasilevskiy which often results in them sagging defensively in front of their cage and trying to protect their goaltender. I look for a change in attitude Wednesday when they face-off for Tampa’s at its best when it plays frenetic, furious offensive pressure hockey. Washington’s constant pressure is resulting in an obtuse imbalance of shots on goal and Tampa must address this as over relying on one’s netminder a second straight game may be risky even with a stone wall like Vasilevskiy in net.
Washington’s defense is veteran laden and has insulated Holtby effectively for they allowed 31.9 shots against in the regular season while compressing that number down in these playoffs to 28 shots per game. Washington’s defense is keenly aware of the Lighting speed, skill and prowess. They realize that they must play with extreme discipline, block passing and shooting lanes and keep the front of the net clear for Holtby as they did in game six to have a chance to travel to Vegas for game one Monday.
The Lighting offense is skilled, quick and plays precision hockey but they’re at their best when playing from the lead which allows them to skate freely to utilize their natural abilities and improvision. Scoring the first goal in this game is key to Tampa being able to press into the Capitals offensive zone, control the puck and pressure Holtby. Tampa has offensive superstars laced throughout their roster so allowing this team room to skate is something the Capitals cannot allow.
The Capitals are a physical, grinding, attacking offense with underestimated speed and quickness and physicality. They’ve utilized a dominating front check to gain access into the opponent’s offensive zone and attack the net which has proven to be most successful. This is surely their aim tonight. The Caps are strong, skilled and are dominating on offense as they’ve already shown in this series. The physical toll they’ve been administering to the Lighting this series as well game six (39 hits to 18) may well manifest itself into advantage come this game seven. I believe the effect of Washington’s unrelenting physical, and frenetic pace of offensive play is taking a physical and emotional toll on Tampa Bay. Tampa did not want this series to go seven games evidenced by listening to Coach Cooper after the game.
This time of year, coaches study diligently to diagnose minor flaws in opponents which they may expose to create advantage. It’s been said, “Playoff hockey uncovers a team’s areas of weakness”, and I believe this.
Washington needs to address face-offs for they are below a 50%-win rate. Face-offs mean possession and possession means offensive pressure. They must also stay disciplined for Tampa’s power play is successful 29% of the time. Tampa was 0-2 on the power play in Monday’s game six loss, if they had gone 1-1 who knows what the story would be today?
Tampa Bay must reduce the shots they are allowing on Vasilevskiy. Allowing the Capitals to control time and space in their own zone is putting immeasurable pressure on Vasilevskiy. Also, the Lighting must stay out of the penalty box as their penalty kill is a meager 74% (Washington kills penalties at an 83% clip for reference sake) and offensively Washington has the most potent power play numbers in the playoffs at 29.8%. Edge Capitals.
I won’t try to compare the capability of these two outstanding coaches. Veteran Head Coach Barry Trotz has been the recipient of unfair criticism in my estimation and what he’s done this year with a team most overlooked is nothing short of incredible.
Jon Cooper since arriving in Tampa Bay has only delivered the Lightning to the playoffs for four of the six years he has been there. These two coaches are both deserving of moving forward, it’s a shame one will have to go home.
Both of these organizations, coaches, players and support staffs are thirsting and desperate to realize their lifelong dream of hoisting Lord Stanley’s Cup.
I do feel (and this is quite intangible stuff) that the Capitals, their fans and especially one Alex Ovechkin have experienced obtuse setback, frustration and heartache these last ten years. The many under achievements realized by the Capitals this last decade will work to manifest itself in one of two ways; either they rise up and finally overcome years of disappointment (not a strong enough word) with a victory tonight or they will yet again fall short of their goals and return home with more questions than answers.
Sports are filled with stories of how deep belief in one’s skills and an unwavering will to realize one’s dreams eventually manifest itself with the crowning achievement. It’s my belief that the Capitals, motivated by their own past will come together tonight and earn their way into the Stanley Cup Finals.
Ray Bourke in hockey and John Elway come to mind as superstars who finally achieved their dream after a long career of setback and disappointment as potential metaphors for Alex Ovechkin. Washington has proved that they are deserving, now they must go out and earn their way to Sin City where a well-rested hockey club and a city of transients bonded together for one purpose await them.
This Stanley Cup journey is only three quarters of the way through after tonight. Enjoy the pure passion.
current pricing accceptable but we'll wait as the parlay playing pundits won't come in to hit Lighting until late...
5-21-18 7:40pm EST
This one goes seven. Ovechkin and team won't fold and quit as Winnipeg did. There's more Hockey to be played in the Wales
5-20-18 2:18pm EST
I posted the photo above because I believe this series takes a bit of a turn here today. I look for the Jets to begin to make this passion play well more physical. I see them trying to inflict physical toll on Fleury first, then the rest of the Knight team overall. I've noticed glimpses of the Jets cracking. Lack of focus, netminder mistakes at critical times and overall inability to keep up with the faster, quicker, rested team is infuriating these Canadians. Their Head Coach has displayed temper on several occasions publicly so what the hail do you think he's doing behind closed doors? The young but not intelligent netminder is talking out and not playing steel trap puck and the team is clearly frustrated by their lack of ability to skate with the Knights.
I look for the Knights to finish this series off today but that is more my wish not my wager as the best way to silence a bully is to whup them in front of they own people. The Jets are gripping and that's not the recipe for success in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. We have an insured one plus unit of profit waiting for us when this series ends so I'm taking the easy route and watching today. I'll be back tomorrow in a critical Wales game sure to test the Capitals mettle.
5-19-19 9:25am EST
Golden Knights have been the sole home team exfelling in these playoffs. They refuse to lose when they host on the strip. I'm so pleased for the community of Las Vegas that they finally received a pro sports team which now adds tot he dimension and diversity not to mention civic pride of a great desert community.
There remains profit to be made so like these teams let's remain focused but maybe ratchet up the intensity a bit and get to work as we strive to improve each day in every way.
5-18-18 7:30pm EST
Jets +105 L
5-18-18 9:30am EST
Road dogs, pups, pooches, mongrels, mutts, canine's and hounds. get the picture? More later today puckheads....
5-16-18 8:20pm EST
Jets +125 W
5-16-18 1:45pm EST
Today we rake a little profit. Jets Series is -105. We'll use the open end of the Jets -140 parlay and tie it to Jets -105 series for return +234. It sets up the opportunity to watch this series knowing there's a one plus unit net profit at the end of the series (we own Vegas +210 series currently). Meanwhile stay tuned until drop of puck because we may not be done.
Playoff hockey is the best eh?
5-16-18 10:15am EST
These last couple rounds have been well more enjoyable than the first round eh? It's a marathon not a sprint and we still have plenty of work to do. We're going to have an interesting move planned for today puckheads. I'll be at the Diamondback game then will post sometime prior to the drop of frozen rubber....
5-15-18 7:17pm EST
Lightning +113 W
5-14-18 5:55pm EST
Golden Knights +210 series (Pending see above)
5-13-18 5:15pm EST
Capitals +170 W
5-3-18 1:50pm EST
Game two's start tonight.
We'll have opinions as well we have the open parlay Winnipeg -140/Open working. We'll circle back to it sooner or later.
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