The Tampa Bay Lightning visit the Florida Panthers for Game 1 of the second round. The two teams split the regular-season series at two wins apiece with one game going to overtime. This is where you’ll find everything, including team win odds, the over/under, and point spreads.
Aleksander Barkov – Player Points (Over 1.5, +140)
In the opening round of the playoffs, Aleksander Barkov registered points in four of six games, including two multi-point games. Even in games where he failed to register anything, he was still dangerous every time the puck touched his stick. He averaged 3.66 shots on net, which always puts him in a good position to put numbers on the board. Barkov is also one of the prime five-on-five players in the NHL, and the Panthers will need him to continue that trend against a strong team like Tampa Bay.
In four games against the Lightning during the regular season, Barkov registered five points and one multi-point game. His quick footing and stick-handling will put Tampa Bay’s defense on the edge of their skates. To reach the over, he’ll need to register two points at the minimum, but that may not be entirely impossible. Andrei Vasilevskiy had a shaky start in Game 1 against the Toronto Maple Leafs. While he put up his best performance in Game 7, look for the Panthers to get the lead early and catch the Lightning off guard.
Carter Verhaeghe – Player Assists (Over 0.5, +160)
The over for this one seems like a no-brainer, given Carter Verhaeghe’s brilliance in Round 1. With six goals and six assists, points in five of six games, and assists in four, this one appears to be a slam dunk. Verhaeghe is precisely what the Panthers needed heading into the opening round against the Washington Capitals, and he was the team’s best closer. He’s entering Round 2 with his head held high, knowing he scored the game-winning goal to bring his team to where they are today.
In three meetings against Tampa Bay during the regular season, Verhaeghe registered two assists. He hasn’t played the team since December, and his ice time then compared to the final three games of the first round is significantly different. The best part about his game is that he doesn’t need much to make something happen. Whether he logs under 15 minutes of ice time in a game or is short-shifted, he creates magic the moment his skates hit the ice. Look for him to be a difference-maker in Game 1.
Victor Hedman – Power Play Points (Over 0.5, +125)
The biggest advantage the Lightning have going into Round 2 is a superior power play, and Victor Hedman is a big part of it. They got off to a slow start as Toronto’s defense kept the Lightning’s special teams at bay, but the longer the series went on, the better it got. Of the teams remaining, Tampa Bay’s 21.2% efficiency puts them in the top five. Florida has yet to register a goal while on the man advantage, and their penalty kill is the lowest ranked of the teams remaining.
Tampa Bay has a clear advantage in Round 2, and to take advantage of it early would spell disaster for Florida. Four of his seven points in Round 1 came on the power play, and he also registered two points on the man advantage in the last meeting with the Panthers during the regular season. Tampa plays an excellent possession game, and hemming the Panthers in their own end is an excellent opportunity to draw some early penalties. Getting on the board quick is of the utmost importance, and Hedman can do that with the Lightning’s special teams taking over.
Odds via Yahoo and Bet365.
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