After building what felt like a comfortable lead in the series, Pittsburgh now founds themselves staring down the barrel of another brutal collapse as I try to make sense of this Stanley Cup Playoff Game 7 free pick. Nothing in hockey is ever guaranteed and as much can be left to chance, momentum and voodoo as actual skill. Both sides posses an unearthly amount of quality amongst their skaters, but the men between the pipes are defining this series.
New York’s Henrik Lundqvist has been a brick wall lately, stopping 67-of-69 shots over the last two games. He was a maniac in Game 6 and overcame the dreaded pressure of playing at home in front of his own fans to keep this series alive.
Now that pressure flips back on to Marc-Andre Fleury, the Penguins’ favorite scapegoat and the only reason that I would bet against the home team in Stanley Cup Playoff Game 7 free picks. Fleury has allowed 9 goals in the past three games on just 78 shots. If you’re new to hockey, that’s atrocious. Fleury is one of those goalies that is as elite as it gets in the playoffs, but can sometimes completely loses his mind.
The Stanley Cup Playoffs Game 7 Betting Line is NYR +145 Vs. PIT -165
Hockey is a strange animal in this regard. Pittsburgh has gotten to Lundqvist routinely throughout this series, but they just can’t seem to get past him when they need to. They’ve hammered him with a heavy dose of pepper and the guy has barely blinked. Fleury has to believe that if he blows Game 7, and is at the very core of another Pittsburgh collapse in the post-season, the fans will turn on him and throw his career in to jeopardy.
That kind of pressure is immense, totally unfair…and unfortunately well justified. Pittsburgh doesn’t play great defense, but they do manage to produce a ton of shots on net. Eventually they’re going to run in to an impenetrable fortress here and there, which is what’s happening with Lundqvist. They just need their own guy to do the same when it matters and right now Fleury isn’t getting that job done. So you can guess where this is going…