Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Finals is Saturday night. With the series getting tighter, how should we shift our thinking? What is the best way to approach tonight's game?
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Under 5.5 (+100)
Clutch goals and great goaltending have been the two calling cards for the Panthers in the Stanley Cup Playoffs and that's exactly what we saw in Game 3. While the goals can be variable, goaltending is something we can lean on moving forward.
Sergei Bobrovsky struggled in the first two games of this series but was able to bounce back quickly for Game 3 where he posted 1.71 goals saved above expectation (GSAx), putting him back in line where he was to this point in the playoffs.
On the other side, by no means did Adin Hill play poorly, whatsoever. He had -0.1 GSAx in Game 3 -- a mere blip on the radar in comparison to the level he's shown since he took over in net.
What was noticeable in Game 3 is that the combined shot attempts are trending down game-by-game. In Game 1, there was a total of 129 shots attempts for both teams. In Game 2, there was a total of 128 shot attempts. In Game 3, there was a total of 124 shot attempts in regulation.
The same can be said about the combined expected goals scored (xGF) trending down game-by-game, with Game 3 again being an exception since it went to overtime. Game 1 had 7.49 xGF, Game 2 had 6.7 xGF, and Game 3 had 6.69 xGF in regulation only.
What's all this mean? The teams are playing tighter by taking and allowing fewer total shot attempts. That limits the overall scoring chances and, thus, limits the potential amount of goals scored.
With both goalies playing at an elite level and the series getting tighter, under 5.5 goals is the spot to look.