Hurricanes vs. Lightning NHL Odds & Pick: Target the Total in Central Division Clash (Monday, April 19)

Hurricanes vs. Lightning NHL Odds & Pick: Target the Total in Central Division Clash (Monday, April 19) article feature image

Scott Audette/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Victor Hedman.

  • The Hurricanes and Lightning open up a huge two-game set in Tampa on Monday night.
  • Both teams are contenders for the Stanley Cup and vying for the top spot in the Central Division.
  • Matt Russell breaks down where he sees betting value in this fantastic matchup.

Hurricanes vs. Lightning Odds

Hurricanes Odds-100
Lightning Odds-120
TimeMonday, 7 p.m. ET
Odds as of Sunday and via PointsBet

It’s not the most high-profile division in the NHL, especially in this season of necessary realignment. The North Division has nightly Canadian matchups! Almost everyone in the East is a short train ride away from each other. The West has the Avalanche! Vegas! The entire state of California!

The Central Division has more than a few after-thought teams on NHL fans’ radar.

However, this week we’re treated to a matchup that you’ll be hard-pressed to improve upon in any other division this season. The top two teams, both Stanley Cup contenders, measure up against one another for the final times this regular season.

Carolina Hurricanes

The Carolina Hurricanes took apart the Predators on Saturday night. For those hoping for a Predators upset, hope still existed as the game was tied 1-1 in the third period, but that score couldn’t have been more cosmetic. The Canes were credited with a simply outrageous 27 High-Danger Chances (HDC) in the 3-1 victory and accumulated 5.3 Expected Goals (xG) at even-strength. Both season-highs, not just for Carolina but for the entire league. MoneyPuck graded Carolina’s deservedness to win the game at 93% and to be honest, given the above metrics, that still feels a little low. 

The Canes' eight-game homestand now looks a little more successful after two wins against the Preds gave them a 5-3 record. They now hit the road to Tampa with an eye on protecting a one-point lead in the division. The Hurricanes are 3-3 against the Lightning this season, so getting the edge in this two-game set will give Carolina a leg up in trying to take the top seed. 

In the six matchups so far this season, the even-strength metrics support the record split. While the Hurricanes have generated 9.0 HDC per game to the Lightning’s 10.33. The Canes have actually warranted 13.26 xG to 13.06 for Tampa Bay.

My “Let’s Do That Hockey” Model, as heard on "THE WINDOW: Sports Betting Podcast," makes Carolina an 11.5% above-average team at even-strength.

Expected goals (also known as xG) is a predictive statistic that gives an indication of whether results are based on sustainable factors like a steady creation of scoring chances, or whether it is down to aspects such as shooting luck or outstanding goaltending.

Simply put, an expected goals rate (xGF%) above 50% is considered good because it means a team is creating the majority of the scoring chances. Anything below 50% is usually a sign that a team is struggling to control play.

xG numbers and advanced stats cited from Evolving Hockey, MoneyPuck and Natural Stat Trick.

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Tampa Bay Lightning

While no team is going to be coming off a performance like the one Carolina had on Saturday, the Tampa Bay Lightning haven’t had anything remotely like that on their resume. They're 2-2 in their last four games, but in the two wins they created just three and five HDC at even-strength, which is well below league average. 

In fact, the Lightning have only 19 more HDC at even strength than they’ve allowed over the course of the season. However, they’ve managed to convert 20 goals more than their opponent. 

Missing Nikita Kucherov all season, and Steven Stamkos of late, has changed the way the Lightning are trying to win games. Even without those guys, they’re still able to convert those HDC at an above-average rate of 16%. Thanks to their all-world goaltender, Andrei Vasilevskiy, stopping those same HDC at a high rate (84%), they’re strategy to just get by can have them win low-scoring games. It also makes them susceptible to being upset, and recent losses to Detroit and Columbus have resulted.

It’s hard to imagine that the Lightning can keep up these better than average percentages without their big-name guys in the remaining games this season. My model has the Lightning down to 8.5% above average at even-strength for the season. 

Betting Analysis & Pick

Given the close proximity of the two teams in my model’s ratings, and adjusting for home-ice, my model spits out exactly the projected moneylines for this matchup after the sportsbook adds in their cut. My true moneyline price is Hurricanes +113/Lightning -113, so I would expect the sportsbooks’ split to look something like Hurricanes +105/Lightning -125. As a result, unless there’s a massive move that brings the Lightning down to -110, there’s no play to be made on the side.

As for the total, the two teams have averaged 4.38 combined xG at even-strength in their six matchups, while they’ve only gone over 5.5 goals in just two of the six games this season.

Both teams are capable of scoring, and they’ve shown that they can create against one another, but the total in this game is still just 5.5. This is likely because of the Lightning’s close-to-the-vest style and because four of the six matchups this season have gone under, but I think there’s room for some better conversion rates, and this game to go over 5.5 goals.

Pick: Over 5.5 (-105)

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