Preview and prediction for Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Finals
Tickets to Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Finals Friday night in Denver are going for a minimum of $1,100. But two hours before the puck drops at 6pm local and 8pm ET, the official watch party at Tivoli Quad at the Auraria Campus will be filling up as the Avalanche prepare to win the Stanley Cup. Leading online sportsbooks continue to raise the moneyline odds on the Avalanche.
Game 5 Odds
- Colorado -179 at BetOnline. -185 at GT Bets and -188 at Bookmaker.
- Tampa Bay +161, +165 and +166
The Avalanche are up to -1500 to win the series, and were -190 at the start of the Stanley Cup to beat the two-time defending champion Lightning.
The Puck Line (-1.5) is Avalanche +140, although I took +155 in Las Vegas and also bet ML at -167. I'm pressing my bets as I'm holding a Stanley Cup futures ticket on the Avalanche (-115) to win the Stanley Cup, which I placed following Game 1 of the Conference Finals with Colorado leading Edmonton. While I often prefer to look towards underdogs and seek out added value, I'm confident the favored Avs capture the Cup Friday night and also played the Avalanche minus a half puck (-1/2) at +155 odds to win the first period.
One of my Canadian colleagues Sherwood is a sharp sports bettor, insightful handicapper and analyst, and value player. He was touting the Avs and their lead two-way defenseman Cale Makar as they rolled through the playoffs. This Avalanche team is so talented, and deep beyond magnificent Makar and leading scorers Mikko Rantanen and Nathan MacKinnon. Check out the stats, from the regular season through the playoffs, with Makar leading the team in points with 7 goals and 20 assists in 18 games, and MacKinnon (12) and Gabriel Landeskon (11) topping the team in goals scored. Add in Artturi Lehknonen, Valeri Nichushkin and Game 4 OT game winner by Nazem Kadri in his return to the lineup following surgery on his thumb, and you have the best team in hockey ready to win the Stanley Cup. That game winning goal was setup by the heads up play and outlet pass by goaltender Darcy Kuemper.
Of course goaltending is always of significant importance in the most luck-driven sport of hockey. Kuemper has been up to the task for the Avalanche, who are 15-3 during the playoffs. How good is that? A win tonight makes the Avs 16-3 in this year's playoffs - the second-best Cup finish since the Wayne Gretzky-led 1988 Edmonton Oilers, in Gretzky's final season in Edmonton and their five Cup dynasty from 1984-1990.
"Our preparation, our breaking the game down into five minute increments so we're sharp and doing what we need to do to have success," said Avs head coach Jared Bednar. "That's our process for success so far this season."
While Lightning supporters might argue that the Avs were fortunate in winning two Cup finals games in overtime, the conditions, speed and altitude advantage is going to take hold now back in Denver. The Avs outscored the Lightning 11-3 in winning Games 1 and 2 in Denver. The Avs played faster, and will do so again as the ice crew at Ball Arena makes sure the conditions favor the home team after the Lightning's crew tried to slow the Avalanche with deteriorating ice conditions in Tampa.
Avs Altitude Advantage
My former college hockey coach passed along a reminder, as I have often referenced in handicapping games played in altitude. My former coach was also on the New York Rangers staff when 1980 U.S. Gold Medal Olympic coach Herb Brooks took over as the Rangers coach in 1981-1985. 'Cardiac Jack', who has a PhD in Sports Physiology, was one of hockey's top innovative thinkers. He was honored with the Lester Patrick Trophy in 2019 for his outstanding service to hockey in the United States.
"My dad had a special relationship with Jack," said Daniel Brooks, Herb's son. "Jack was his main advisor on helping him implement more of a fast-paced, highly-skilled European type game. Herb was obsessed with the Soviet style of game and training and Jack, being a professor, sure helped him with that transition."
Jack's 'cardiovascular fitness' regimen began in the late 1970's while earning his doctorate degree at the University of Minnesota School of Physiology.
"My biggest finding was that by training for intervals of speed and quickness off ice, you can improve on-ice speed and quickness," Blatherwick said. "It wasn't just about training players from the 1980 team to skate faster but train them to perform skills and decisions at that speed.
"That's what I call overspeed training; training so fast that they have to make decisions and perform skills at a speed that's usually uncomfortable for those skills. That was the thrust of the training for the 1980 Olympic Team."
Jack passed this along with his background and understanding of physiology.
While the Stanley Cup officials are more likely to let the teams play with fewer penalties, it's worth noting too that the Avalanche are 6-of-13 on the power play during the finals, and have killed off 13-of-14 shorthanded situations.
Congratulations ahead of Game 5 to the Stanley Cup champions, Colorado Avalanche.
You can bet on it.
FairwayJay is a proven sports handicapper and former college hockey player. He chips in additional sports betting coverage from tee-to-green along with reporting on industry news and events. Read more great insights from FairwayJay and follow him on Twitter: @FairwayJay