The Tampa Bay Lightning are traveling back to their home barn after taking a sturdy 2-0 series lead. The Florida Panthers find themselves in the same situation they were in last postseason when they dropped the series’ first two games against the Lightning. They’ll need to figure out ways to produce some offense if they hope to even things up. This is where you’ll find everything, including team win odds, the over/under, and point spreads.
Claude Giroux – Player Power Play Points (Over 0.5, +185)
With eight points in eight games during this year’s postseason, Claude Giroux has come as advertised. He’s gelled well on the top line and gives the Panthers a good dose of veteran leadership and scoring. He was good in Round 1 against the Washington Capitals, registering seven points and six games, including two multi-point games. Thus far, he has one assist in two games against the Lightning, with six shots on net and is a plus-1 rating. He’s been one of the Panthers’ most consistent forwards since his arrival at the trade deadline.
Giroux registered five points in four games against the Lightning during the regular season. He matches them well with his style of play, and alongside Aleksander Barkov and Carter Verhaeghe, he’s looked dominant at times. His ice time has increased steadily compared to Round 1, and he’s getting a fair amount of opportunities. The Lightning have taken no fewer than three penalties in each game this series, and Florida needs to get on the board while on the man advantage. They’ve been held off for too long, and Giroux is the perfect player to get them going.
Aleksander Barkov – Player Shots (Over 3.5, +120)
If the Panthers are going to climb out of the hole they find themselves in, they’ll need Aleksander Barkov at his best. He’s been held off the scoresheet in both games against Tampa Bay after registering six points in six games in Round 1. Thankfully, the Panthers have a surplus of firepower upfront, but it has yet to make an appearance in two games. If Barkov can get going, the Panthers should be able to turn the tables while on the road.
Barkov is getting his chances to score one, and his failure to get on the scoresheet isn’t due to a lack of trying. He has eight shots on goal in two games, and the Panthers have combined for 70 shots thus far. Tampa Bay is leaning heavily on its defense forcing shots to the outside and leaving the rest to Andrei Vasilevskiy. Barkov registered five shots in Game 2, and with the over/under set to 3.5, there’s an opportunity here to make some money.
Nikita Kucherov – Player Points (Over 1.5, +160)
In nine postseason games thus far, Nikita Kucherov has registered four multi-point games, including Game 1 against the Panthers. As the game opens up and power-play opportunities arise, Kucherov is right at home. He excels at engaging in Tampa Bay’s cycling game, and he continues to be stealth-like when finding open lanes to jump into and receive a pass. There aren’t many teams that can skate with the Lightning when a player like Kucherov is flying.
In front of a loud Lightning crowd, expect Kucherov to be on top of his game. He’s averaging over 22 minutes of ice time against Florida, and head coach Jon Cooper can expect his star forward to continue being one of the team’s best players. He’s the type to elevate his game the longer a series goes on, and he counters Florida’s high-octane offense well. Last year, he registered 11 points in six games, including three multi-point games, and was one of the Lightning’s most consistent point producers.
Odds via Yahoo and Bet365.
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