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Lightning vs. Predators NHL Odds & Picks: Back Nashville With Deadline in Rear-View (Tuesday, April 13)

Lightning vs. Predators NHL Odds & Picks: Back Nashville With Deadline in Rear-View (Tuesday, April 13) article feature image

John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Juuse Saros.

  • The Lightning shut out the Predators on Saturday, thanks to a 36-save performance from Andrei Vasilevskiy.
  • While the Predators were the victims of Vasilevskiy, the underlying metrics were far more flattering.
  • Who has the edge on Tuesday night? Matt Russell breaks down the matchup.

Lightning vs. Predators Odds

Lightning Odds -180
Predators Odds +152
Over/Under 5.5
Time Tuesday, 8 p.m. ET
Odds as of Monday and via FanDuel

“To buy or not to buy, that is the question.” 

It’s not Shakespearean drama in the way of Hamlet, or Macbeth, but when it comes to the NHL’s trade deadline, in the hearts of the teams, their fans and the teams’ management, it might as well be that dramatic.

From a volume perspective, while not the total gong show it was in the 1990s, the NHL’s trade deadline results in more men moved than any other league. Teams are looking to fill holes, in a sport where intrinsic chemistry matters most. They try to shave salary in a league that has the strictest of caps.

With not quite a quarter of the shortened season left to play, for some teams the age-old questions of “buy or sell” is an easy one, and for others it can go either way.

Tampa Bay Lightning

The defending Stanley Cup champions didn’t have a tough decision to make. The Lightning are in a battle for the top spot in the Central Division but if we’re being honest, it doesn’t likely matter all that much as they know they can beat any of the teams in their division.

As for trade-deadline acquisitions, when the thing you need most for another long playoff run is the return of your own superstar scorer, it’s not like the shopping list is going to be extensive. 

Tampa added some depth to the blue line, which is standard operating procedure for contenders. Unlike me a couple days before my girlfriends’ birthday, Tampa avoided making one of those late-night, desperate, panic purchases. You could make the case that the Lightning could have made a deal based on recent results not being up to snuff, since the Bolts are just 4-5 in their last nine games.

Even though they won the game before that stretch, it was a game where they were outplayed at even strength, contributing to a 9.2 to 8.3 average deficit in High-Danger Chances (HDC) at even-strength in their last 10 games. 

The Lightning shut out the Predators on Saturday, thanks to a 36-save performance from Andrei Vasilevskiy, who bounced back after a pair of mediocre outings where he was unable to stop more than 90% of the shots against. The league-leader in Goals Saved Above Average (GSAA) was the key contributor in the win, a role that he’s played more frequently this season than any before it.

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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Nashville Predators

While the Predators were the victims of Vasilevskiy on Saturday, the underlying metrics were far more flattering. The loss was just the Preds’ third in their last 15 games, and they were just as good at even-strength as they had been previously, in fact, even better. Nashville’s 14 HDC at even-strength were not just their highest number in that stretch, but their biggest output of the season. 

The Predators weren’t able to convert any of the 14 HDC, which was a change of pace from their recent winning stretch during which they’d converted 17.4% of them. While that percentage was an outlier that was due for Saturday night’s regression, the high volume of chances against Tampa is the important part to focus on.

The Predators didn’t go wild at the trade deadline either, even as they fend off the chasers for the final playoff spot in the Central Division.

Defensively, Nashville has given up nine or fewer even-strength HDC in 10 or their last 12 games. More significantly, Juuse Saros continues to find his game, and all of a sudden is second in the league in GSAA (behind Vasilevskiy). He’s turned his average Goals Saved from a minus early in the season, to +14.4.

That’s supported by opponents scoring on just 11 of their last 120 HDC against the Preds. Not that the loss was his fault, but Pekka Rinne was in net on Saturday and gave up the two goals that made the difference in the loss. Saros was back in net on Sunday for a shootout victory over the Stars. 

Betting Analysis & Pick

My “Let’s Do That Hockey” model, as heard on “THE WINDOW: Sports Betting Podcast,” rates the Lightning as 11% above average at even-strength, while the Predators are still just right at average relative to the rest of the division. However, this current 10-game stretch has Tampa playing at just a +6% rate, and the Preds are playing closer to +4% in their last 15 games.

This tighter discrepancy, and the game being played in Nashville adds up to quite a bit of value on the Predators as big home underdogs here. 

While a loss isn’t going to result in a tragic end to the Predators season, nor are they going to make a Macbeth-like move for the Lightning’s throne, they’re definitely more desperate for points in the standings and should look that way after letting the previous game slip through their fingers.  

Pick: Predators (+160 or better)

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