Lightning vs. Panthers Odds & Pick: Bet Florida to Tie Series In Game 2 (May 18)
Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Chris Driedger
- After an incredible Game 1, the Panthers look to even their in-state series against the Lightning.
- The defending champs got a game winner with just over one minute left in Game 1 in front of almost 10,000 fans in South Florida.
- Pete Truszkowski breaks down the betting value in Game 2 and delivers his pick for the game.
Lightning vs. Panthers Odds
|Time||Tuesday, 8 p.m. ET|
Coming into these playoffs, there was a lot of excitement about the Battle of the Sunshine State. The Tampa Bay Lightning enter as defending Stanley Cup champions, but they will face stiff competition in the first round from their inner-state foes. In fact, the Florida Panthers finished higher in the standings and have home-ice advantage.
Game 1 met and even surpassed all expectations, as the Lightning won a back-and-forth contest, 5-4. Brayden Point scored on a breakaway with just over one minute left in the third period to seal the win.
In Game 2, the defending champions are slight favorites to take a 2-0 series lead. Is there reason to believe the Panthers could make this a series as a home underdog?
What Did We Learn in Game 1?
As exhilarating as Game 1 was, it answered a lot of pressing questions heading into the series.
First and foremost, we learned the Florida Panthers can definitely play with the defending champions. Florida had the advantage in record, as well as most underlying metrics during the regular season, but it’s nice to see firsthand that they are not intimidated or overmatched.
Florida actually outscored the Lightning 3-1 at even strength in Game 1. Unfortunately for the Panthers, the Lightning scored three goals on the man advantage. Additionally, the Bolts added a shorthanded goal mere seconds after the Panthers had a somewhat controversial goal of their own waved off. With that being said, the Panthers playing to a 55.1% expected goal rate in the opener is a positive.
Unfortunately for Florida, two other questions were answered in the affirmative for the Lightning.
Nikita Kucherov made his season debut after spending the entire regular season on injured reserve. In case you were curious if there was going to be an acclimation period or some rust, wonder no more.
Kucherov had two goals and an assist, all on the power play. At 5-on-5, Kucherov and his line with Point and Ondrej Palat played to an expected goal rate of 59%. It seems like the former MVP had no rust to shake off.
The main question mark for the Panthers entering this series was between the pipes. Sergei Bobrovsky got the start even though the statistics wouldn’t point you in his direction. After posting a -8.1 goals saved above expectation mark in the regular season, Bobrovsky was beaten five times. It’s hard to blame him individually on any of the goals he allowed, but it’s hard to win when you’re allowing a five spot.
Update: The Florida Panthers have confirmed that Chris Driedger will start in goal for Game 2. Driedger has had better numbers than Bobrovsky in each of the past two seasons and posted an impressive +7.03 GSAx in 23 starts this season.
Betting Analysis & Pick
Coming into this series, there wasn’t much separating these teams. Many expected a very close back-and-forth series. Despite the Lightning being defending champions, a Panthers series win wouldn’t come as that big of a shock to many.
If you’re still of that belief, your bet in this situation should be obvious. A Lightning win here would give them a 2-0 series lead, something that’s only been overcome 51 times in 381 (13.4%) best-of-seven series in NHL history.
If you liked the Panthers to make this a long and competitive series, not much that happened in Game 1 should change your mind. The Panthers were the better team at 5-on-5 but lost the special teams battle badly.
For the first time in 14 months, we also get to handicap the impact of a real crowd. There were nearly 10,000 Panthers fans in attendance for Game 1, and their presence was loud and appreciated by anyone who craves a return to normalcy. As capacities across the league continue to increase, home ice should have a larger impact. This is especially true in situations like this where the home team is trying to even the series against an in-state rival.
I think the Lightning are a smidge better than the Panthers, but the situation here should make this line closer to a pick’em. As a desperate home underdog, I think Florida is worthy of a bet to even the series on Tuesday night.
Pick: Panthers +110
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