Things were looking great for the Washington Capitals after they stole Games 1&2 of the Eastern Conference Finals at Tampa Bay. Unfortunately for the long suffering Caps fans the series became the disappointment of old as Washington dropped Games 3&4 on their home ice. Now Saturday night Tampa has a great chance to take a stranglehold on the series in the May 19th NHL playoffs free pick. Do the Lightning have the yips at home or is Washington’s free fall legit?
What Went Wrong For Washington?
The Caps were playing with house money after outscoring Tampa Bay 10-4 in Games 1 and 2 to take a 2-0 series lead heading back home. Even if Washington were to have split at the Capital One Arena, they’d have three games to get one win to advance to their first Stanley Cup Finals since 1998. Instead the Lightning captured both contests and now head home themselves looking to go up 3-2 with two to play (if necessary). The Capitals are getting plenty of opportunities with 38 SOG in each of the last two games, it’s just that the puck isn’t going in as evidenced by 4 total goals.
On the flip side, the save efficiency for Washington G Braden Holtby has been horrendous. The Lightning scored 4 goals on just 23 shots in Game 3. That statistic was actually better than Game 4, where TB netted 4 goals on just 20 shots (one of which was an empty netter). Having your offense go south while simultaneously allowing your opponent to maximize scoring efficiency isn’t a great recipe for the Caps in the May 19th NHL playoffs free pick.
Stars for Tampa Bay Starting to Play Like It
Steven Stamkos has a 1st period goal in each of the last two games which gives him four for the series. It’s no coincidence that when the C gets going early, the rest of the Lightning players follow suit. Brayden Point has also scored in three straight as the Washington offense has all of a sudden gone cold. It’s obvious that the Tampa Bay scoring attack has regrouped from underwhelming performances in Games 1 and 2 where they scored just 4 total goals on 56 shots. Mind you, this is the #1 scoring attack in the NHL during the regular season up against the Caps 16th ranked defense.
You can’t overlook Andrei Vasilevskiy’s role in fueling the turnaround. The G got off to a rough start allowing 10 goals on 62 shots the first two games of the series. He’s being absolutely peppered however with three contests facing over 37+ SOG – and this is against a Washington team that was dead last in the league on SOG during the regular season. If the Tampa Bay defense can keep the Caps scorers out of their goaltender’s face in the May 19th NHL playoffs free pick the Lightning have a great chance at going up 3-2.
May 19th NHL Playoffs Free Pick Betting
There are some interesting trends looking tonight’s Game 5 in the eye, the most glaring of which is that road teams are 4-0 thus far in the series. Oddsmakers don’t foresee that continuing tonight as they’ve made Tampa Bay -160 favorites but 58% of the public is liking the Caps. For Washington to get the W, they’ll need to do a solid reset which can be hard to do after blowing a 2-0 series lead. The Tampa Bay crowd won’t make it any easier for Washington either as the Lightning cruise to a 3-2 series advantage.
Free Pick: Tampa Bay Lightning -160