Ice picks: Friday's best NHL bets
Tampa Bay Lightning at Boston Bruins (-150, 5.5)
If there’s one thing the Lightning know how to do, it’s win when their backs are against the wall. Tampa Bay improved to 4-0 this season when facing elimination, including a thrilling, 5-4 win in Game 6 in Florida.
"It's been our motto all season — resilience and work ethic,'' said Tampa Bay forward Teddy Purcell. "When we work hard around the crease and create traffic, that's when we have success against Tim Thomas. When we don't, he out-competes us and comes out on top.''
Don’t expect Thomas or the rest of the Bruins to intimidate the Lightning in Massachusetts. Tampa Bay already has won a Game 7 on the road this year, besting Pittsburgh, 1-0 in Pennsylvania as it completed a rally from a 3-1 series deficit. Overall, the Lightning are 3-0 all-time in Game 7s and are trying to become the first team in NHL history to win each of their first four Game 7s.
The Bruins, meantime, haven’t fared well recently in decisive contests. Boston beat Montreal in Game 7 on home ice earlier this postseason, but dropped its two prior Game 7s, both on home ice: against Carolina in 2009 and Philadelphia in 2010.
It also would be difficult to find a more clutch goalie in the playoffs than Tampa Bay’s Dwayne Roloson. Despite getting pulled in Game 4, Roloson is an absurd 7-0 in elimination games in his career. In those games, he has a miniscule 1.82 goals-against average and a sterling .936 save percentage.
"He was our MVP," Tampa Bay forward Steven Stamkos said. "He was clutch when we needed him. The numbers he put up were ridiculous. Our penalty kill is ultimately what won us this series, and he was our best penalty killer. Words can't express how much he meant to us in this series."Pick: