NHL Betting Odds and Picks: Lightning vs. Avalanche, Capitals at Golden Knights and More (Monday, Feb. 17)

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Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Pavel Francouz

Monday’s National Hockey League handle could be fun to monitor. It’s rare that the NHL doesn’t need to compete with the NBA during the regular season, but with the Association still on All-Star Break, the ice is where the action is on Presidents Day. Hopefully people notice.

Monday’s NHL card kicks off at 4 p.m. ET and features five games, but the clear headliner is a potential Stanley Cup preview between the Tampa Bay Lightning and Colorado Avalanche.

Oh, and veteran defenseman Andy Greene will likely make his New York Islanders debut in another potential — albeit highly, highly unlikely — Stanley Cup preview between the Arizona Coyotes and Isles.

Let’s get to it.


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Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Colorado Avalanche

Lightning odds: -110
Avalanche odds: -110
Time: 9:08 p.m. ET
Over/Under: 6.5

The Tampa Bay Lightning crack me up.

There’s very little debate that Tampa is the best team in the NHL right now and I guess that wasn’t good enough, because the Bolts went out and traded for unheralded goal-scorer Blake Coleman, formerly of the New Jersey Devils.

The addition of Coleman is a case of the rich-getting-richer, as the Lightning add more goal-scoring talent to a forward corps that already has plenty of it. Tampa Bay ranks second in the NHL in goals per 60 minutes at 5-on-5 and fifth in expected goals for per 60 minutes at 5-on-5 this season.

The only team that scores more goals per hour than Tampa this season? That would be the Colorado Avalanche.

Considering the type of offensive capabilities these two teams possess, you’d think this game would be as simple as “sit back, bet the over and enjoy.” Not so fast, my friend.

Not only are the Lightning one of the best teams in at scoring goals, but they’ve turned into a defensive powerhouse as the season has progressed. Only Boston, Minnesota and Columbus allow fewer expected goals per 60 minutes than Tampa Bay this season and only Columbus and Boston allow fewer goals per 60.

The good news is that, although not nearly as complete as Tampa Bay, Colorado’s defense has been sturdy this season and has allowed just 2.08 expected goals against per 60 minutes in its last 31 games. That is just a smidge behind Tampa Bay in that same span.

Heatmap via HockeyViz.com

These two teams aren’t that far apart, though Colorado is still going to be without No. 2 center Nazem Kadri. Kadri’s absence dents Colorado’s forward depth and puts more of a scoring burden Nathan MacKinnon’s line.

The odds imply that this game is a straight-up coin flip, which means that the Lightning would be -133 favorites against the Kadri-less Avalanche on neutral ice. That seems a little low to me and thus, I’ll be playing Tampa at -110 and would go as high as -115 on the Bolts.

[Bet now at FanDuel. NJ, PA, IN and WV only.]

Around the League

The Washington Capitals (+115) have led the Metropolitan Division for basically the entire season so far but a mini-slump has landed the Caps in a real fight with Pittsburgh for the No. 1 seed in the division. You could say that this swoon was a long time coming for the Caps, as their 5-on-5 numbers haven’t really been that impressive, but Washington has made a habit of beating its underlying metrics over the years, so who knows if the Capitals will continue to wobble or not.

A win against the Vegas Golden Knights (-135) would go a long way in getting Washington back on track but that’s easier said than done as the Knights have the best expected goals rate (56%) in the NHL this season.

These odds imply that these two teams are nearly dead even on neutral ice and I can’t disagree with that. If Washington gets above +120 I’d be interested, though.

I’d make the New York Islanders (+115) favorites over the Arizona Coyotes (-135) on neutral ice and, thus, see value on my beloved Isles at +115.

[Bet now at FanDuel. NJ, PA, IN and WV only.]

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