With three games of a best-of-seven series in the books, the Stanley Cup Final enters its second week.
The Tampa Bay Lightning lead the Chicago Blackhawks 2-1 after taking a gritty victory last night. Snatching a road win has cut their odds to lift the Stanley Cup to 1.51, but Chicago are far from out of it. If anything this could be the best time to jump on the Blackhawks at 2.50.
Tampa Bay have scored first in all three games and making fast starts has been a huge boost. Game 1 remains the only time this postseason they have lost from taking the opening lead. While Chicago have always managed to tie it up, they need to come out of the locker room with more intensity.
Speed has been the Lightning's best asset whether on the forecheck or the rush. The "Triplets" line; Tyler Johnson, Nikita Kucherov and Ondrej Palat is the clear success story and they have played a huge role in their side's two wins. Yesterday when Brandon Saad put the Hawks' 2-1 up early in the third period, the trio stepped up and tied the game in just 13 seconds.
The star names are yet to light it up. Steven Stamkos has not registered for the Bolts, but Chicago have greater problems with no goals for Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Marian Hossa. They do have bright spots, namely the consistency of Saad. Also look out for Andrew Shaw's prominence to rise as he continues to get under his opponents' skin.
Tampa's top defensive pair of Victor Hedman and Anton Stralman has excelled at both ends, taking at least 24 minutes of ice time. Hedman also showcased great vision in picking up two primary assists last night including on Cedric Paquette's game winner. Goalie Ben Bishop's status is one to keep an eye on, he's appeared to be struggling physically but not enough to stop him racking up the saves.
Odds for Game 4 at United Center tomorrow are heavily weighted in Chicago's favour as they start at 2.00 to Tampa's 3.35.
Best bet: Two of the three contests have now been won by the road side so the value is clearly with the Lightning at 3.35 to take what could be series-defining victory.