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Lightning Penguins Betting – Eastern Conference Quarterfinal Series Preview

Posted by Don Melrose on 4/12/2011 10:40:11 AM
lightning penguins betting

The NHL playoffs are here, and the toughest first-round matchup in the Eastern Conference pits the heralded Pittsburgh Penguins against the up-and-coming Tampa Bay Lightning.

(5) Tampa Bay Lightning vs. (4) Pittsburgh Penguins

The sports betting community has eight opening-round NHL postseason series to choose from this week, and it’s entirely reasonable to say that the Tampa Bay-Pittsburgh matchup is the toughest one in the East. Pittsburgh brings playoff experience to the table, having made two straight Stanley Cup Finals in 2008 and 2009 and winning the trophy the second time around. Between the youthful brilliance of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin on one hand and, on the other, the veteran presence of older grinders like Maxime Talbot and Hal Gill, Pittsburgh went toe-to-toe with the Detroit Red Wings in two straight clashes for the beloved cup, the most prestigious trophy in North American sports. Pittsburgh mixed blue-collar grit with open-ice skill, and goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury was more than capable between the pipes, giving the Pens new life after roughly a decade and a half in the NHL’s wilderness. Pittsburgh rose to championship prominence in 1991 and 1992 thanks to Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr, but the franchise then fell on tough times for an extended period. It wasn’t until Crosby’s arrival that things turned around in the Steel City.

The team that Pittsburgh is playing has not been to the Stanley Cup Finals since the NHL’s 2005 lost season. The Pens’ opponent is actually the team that won the last Stanley Cup title before the cancelled 2005 campaign, the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Bolts suffered through multiple miserable seasons and burned through coaches such as Barry Melrose in no time at all. However, thanks to the addition of heralded youngster Steven Stamkos, the Lightning now have new blood to complement the steady and seasoned hands of Martin St. Louis and Vincent Lecavalier. Tampa Bay is, in many ways, a less experienced version of what Pittsburgh was a few years ago. The big question mark for the number-five seed in the East will be if goalie Dwayne Roloson, who helped the Edmonton Oilers reach Game Seven of the 2006 Stanley Cup Finals, can steal a couple wins and fend off Pittsburgh’s potent attack. Roloson is a steady hand in net and has proven that he can navigate the wars of April and May. Roloson played at a very high level when Edmonton upset the Anaheim Ducks to win the 2006 Western Conference championship. Five years later, Roloson will need to emerge if Tampa Bay is to escape the first round’s toughest draw. MLB baseball betting experts know that Tampa’s baseball team can’t score. In this series, Tampa Bay will need to prevent its opponent from scoring.

The big question NHL betting gurus are monitoring for Pittsburgh is the sharpness of Crosby. The superstar missed more than a month of the season because of a severe concussion that demanded extensive follow-up tests and a lot of medical supervision. Crosby has been skating again of late, but it remains to be seen if he’ll be effective in this series. NHL news is abundant on the internet, but we’ll never fully know about Crosby’s condition until we see a few games in this series. Ultimately, that uncertainty makes Tampa Bay the more attractive pick. Unless Crosby is functioning at the top of his powers, the Penguins don’t know what they’re bringing to battle. That’s not good; pick Tampa Bay in six games.

NHL Betting Pick: Tampa Bay to win series in six games.

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