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.
Tampa Bay Lightning (+135) vs Florida Panthers (-160)
TBL: 4-3, 3.29 GF/GP, 3.43 GA/GP
FLA: 4-2, 3.33 GF/GP, 3.17 GA/GP
The Lightning’s quest to win their third consecutive Stanley Cup is still alive after vanquishing the Toronto Maple Leafs in Game 7. Despite entering this year’s postseason as the back-to-back champions, they’re up against another formidable opponent. They’ll be without the services of Brayden Point for at least Game 1 after he suffered a lower-body injury in the final game of the opening round. Jon Cooper stated that he’ll be day-to-day after that, but it’s unknown when he’ll be available to return. Nikita Kucherov leads all Lightning players in points with eight, and Ondrej Palat and Ross Colton have three goals.
The Panthers once again find themselves as the favourite to win the series, though not as heavy as their first-round matchup against the Washington Capitals. They put the Capitals away in six games thanks to a stellar performance from Carter Verhaeghe, who finished the series with six goals and six assists. The Panthers boast a solid offensive structure that matches Tampa Bay’s system, making this series a must-watch. They’ll look to get revenge for last year’s defeat in the opening round to the Lightning.
Tampa Bay – Win/Lose By Fewer Than 2 Goals (+1.5, -185)
An interesting stat entering tonight’s contest is that Tampa Bay is 11-3 in their last 14 games against Florida after coming off two days of rest. The Lightning traded wins with the Panthers during the regular season and are more battle-tested. They eliminated Florida in the opening round of last year’s playoffs, but this year’s team looks to be an improvement over last year’s squad. The caveat entering Game 1 is the absence of Point, which will have a ripple effect through the rest of the Lightning’s lines.
The Panthers got off to a slow start in their series against Washington, dropping two of the first three games before finding their stride. They’ll have to avoid that becoming a trend, especially against a team like Tampa Bay. With the addition of Claude Giroux, the Panthers’ top six is deadly and can compete with the Lightning on any given night. They also ice a competent third line, much like Tampa Bay does, making the coaching matchup one of equal importance. The Panthers have home-ice advantage and will have last change in four of seven games, giving them a slight advantage.
Total Goals Scored – Over 6.5 (-135)
The goaltending matchup between Andrei Vasilevskiy and Sergei Bobrovsky will be one that fans of both sides will be most observant of. Vasilevskiy allowed three or more goals in six of seven games in the opening round but shut the door in the final game. Bobrovsky allowed three or more goals in four of six but faced less volume of shots. Both goaltenders have had brilliant moments and times of doubt, but they also saved their best game for the one that clinched the series.
The intriguing aspect of this series is that the regular season does not indicate where this series could go. The opening two games were close affairs with tight checking and defense, but the final two games were massive blow-outs. They have two lines possessing massive firepower but defensive systems that can clog up the neutral zone and wall up entry into the defensive zone. If Tampa Bay can go to work on the power play and take advantage of Florida’s 70.8% penalty kill, it could be a long series for Andrew Brunette’s club.
Odds via Yahoo and BetMGM.
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