Stanley Cup Final betting: 4 picks for Lightning vs Avalanche Game 6
Chris Peters makes four picks for Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals between the Tampa Bay Lightning and Colorado Avalanche.
Lightning to beat Avalanche
With the chance to close out the Stanley Cup Final on home ice, the Colorado Avalanche learned just how tough it is to send the Tampa Bay Lightning packing. Despite carrying play for large stretches of the game, the Avs find themselves heading back to Tampa with the more difficult task of clinching as the away side. What makes it particularly difficult isn’t that they’re going to be on the road, it’s that they’re going against one of the very best goaltenders there is when his team’s back is against the wall.
Andrei Vasilevskiy has played in four elimination games dating back to 2020. In those games, he is 4-0 with a 1.75 goals-against average and .945 save percentage. He is an absolute monster when his team needs him most. That should be the biggest source of concern for Colorado, aside from the feeling of a missed opportunity at home. Additionally, Darcy Kuemper allowed two goals in Game 5 that you would think he should have had, including Ondrej Palat’s late game-winner.
Nowhere was the goaltending disparity more obvious than in Game 5. Vasilevskiy was beaten on a scramble in front and a bad bounce that he couldn’t have anticipated. Beating him clean was not something that was going to happen and it probably won’t happen in Game 6.
The Lightning’s experience has come in handy when they needed it most. Even though the Avalanche continue to win the possession battle and have more scoring chances, the Lightning are going to be so tough to eliminate. Colorado left the door cracked open here and I don’t think you can give a team like Tampa that inch.
I expect the Avs to have a hot start in game 6, but I can’t pick against Vasilevskiy right now.
Total goals: under 6
We’ve seen the under go in the last two games and I think that’s a trend that continues. The Lightning have not been explosive enough offensively and Vasilevskiy has tamped down on the Avalanche’s offensive onslaught. It’s been remarkable to see the Tampa goaltender get better and better as each series has progressed this postseason. That’s bad news for the Avs.
Still, I think Colorado will be able to find the back of the net and Tampa’s offense hasn’t been spectacular in this series. With this being an elimination game, I expect it to be very tightly played.
Ondrej Palat anytime goal scorer
All he does is score big goals. Palat has been one of Tampa’s most important players this postseason, stepping up in the absence of Brayden Point and bringing it every single night. Palat’s run this postseason has been special. He has scored a goal in eight of his last 12 games this postseason including the game-winner in Game 5. He continues to find ways to impact the game in what very well could be his final season with the lightning as his contract is up after this year.
Palat’s minutes have gone up in the last two games as well. He played 20:05 of Game 5 and I suspect he’ll get similar opportunity in Game 6. If the Lightning are going to survive to play another day, I’d expect Palat to have a hand in it.
Cale Makar to score 2+ points
After watching Makar in game 5, and really throughout this entire postseason, I don’t think there’s any doubt of his being Colorado’s best player in these playoffs. Should they win, he’ll be the Conn Smythe winner. He has had two or more points in three of the Stanley Cup Final games and has had eight multi-point games over his 19 appearances this postseason.
He’s quickly staking his claim to being the best defenseman in the world with his performance over this season and its playoffs. Makar’s impact in Game 5 was as noticeable as anyone’s. He did get a little banged up, though, as he appeared to have had a sore ankle or foot late in the game, so keep an eye on that. But even if he’s not 100 per cent, I expect Makar to make a pretty significant impact in Game 6.