Game 6 betting preview: Lightning to bolt their way to Stanley Cup Final
We have just one hockey game to look forward to this weekend, and it's a big one.
With a win, the Tampa Bay Lightning could advance to their third consecutive Stanley Cup Final - an absurd feat in today's NHL.
Can the Bolts put the New York Rangers away, or will the latter find a way to bring it home for Game 7?
Let's examine that, and the prop markets, and pick our three best bets for Game 6.
The Rangers put together a heck of a run, but I don't see their fairy-tale story ending happily.
This Lightning team - even without Brayden Point - is simply too good. They have smacked the Rangers around at five-on-five throughout the series, progressively getting better each game.
New York has controlled just 39.69% of the expected goal share at five-on-five. That is astronomically bad. Their results have aligned with the numbers as well, especially over the last three games.
They have netted just one five-on-five goal in that time, with the lone exception coming from defensive defenseman Ryan Lindgren. Not ideal!
Giving up chances at a pretty high rate is not the end of the world when Igor Shesterkin is there to clean up most of the messes in front of him. Failing to generate them against a goaltender of Andrei Vasilevskiy's caliber is borderline impossible to overcome.
That's the issue the Rangers are dealing with, and their best players are at the forefront of it.
They can't muster up anything outside of the power play, which makes it very difficult to win games.
The Rangers are clearly on the ropes. I expect an experienced winner like the Lightning to take advantage of that and put them away on home soil.
Bet: Lightning in regulation (good to -130)
Nikita Kucherov over 3.5 shots (play at +100 or better)
Kucherov lost in Game 5 but it wasn't for a lack of effort. He attempted eight shots, which was actually the game high. That's nothing new for Kucherov, who is generating just under eight attempts per contest in this series.
The Lightning are back at home so they can get him, and the team's best weapons, out in the matchups they want. With the opportunity to put the Rangers away, and advance to the Stanley Cup, it feels safe to assume Kucherov will see his usual workload of 20-plus minutes; perhaps even more.
Look for Kucherov to make his mark felt once again.
Chris Kreider under 2.5 shots (play at -125 or better)
Those who have followed my work for this series will not be surprised to see Kreider's name mentioned again.
He's had a miserable time generating shots in this series. He's averaging just 3.5 attempts, which includes the power play, where he is one of the key cogs as the netfront finisher.
He and New York's top players are struggling mightily to create offense at five-on-five. That's where the vast majority of every game is spent. I don't see that changing when a potential advancement to the Stanley Cup Final is on the line.
With such low shot volume, Kreider has no room for error. He has to get all of his attempts on target to hit, and even then it sometimes isn't enough.
Kreider has recorded two shots or fewer in six of eight vs Tampa Bay this season and yet the under is consistently priced near even money. Take advantage of that one last time.
Todd Cordell is a sports betting writer at theScore. Be sure to follow him on Twitter @ToddCordell.