NHL Betting Odds and Picks: Will the Lightning Ever Lose Again? (Saturday, Jan. 11, 2020)

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Mark LoMoglio/NHLI via Getty Images.

Jan 10, 2020, 05:50 PM EST

Well, would you look at that. The Tampa Bay Lightning are absolutely rolling right now. The Bolts have won nine games in a row and look like they could make a serious bid to snatch the Atlantic Division title from the Bruins, who looked like a sure thing for the entire first half.

There are some people around HockeyTwitter patting themselves on the back for not giving up on the Lightning after their 9-7-2 start, but the truth was that if you dug just a little bit deeper than their record it was easy to see the Bolts were still a wolf in wolf’s clothing — they just needed to catch a few breaks.

Tampa brings its nine-game winning streak to Philadelphia on Saturday.


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Tampa Bay Lightning at Philadelphia Flyers Odds

  • Lightning odds: -145
  • Flyers odds: +125
  • Over/Under: 6.5
  • Time: 7 p.m. ET

The Lightning have been a force to be reckoned with at 5-on-5 this season. The Lightning won just 16 of their first 31 games, but during that stretch they still boasted a 53.2% expected goal rate (xG%) and created 0.3 more expected goals per hour than they allowed. Those numbers are pretty much on par with where the Bolts were in 2018-19 when they finished with a 52.9 xG%.

Even if Tampa maintained those rates, it would almost certainly have climbed the standings if its goaltending improved. Not only did the Bolts get better play from their goalies over the last few weeks, but they’ve improved on their already-terrific 5-on-5 numbers, too.

Through his first 20 games of the season, reigning Vezina Trophy winner Andrei Vasilevskiy posted a -10.2 Goals Saved Above Expectation (GSAx). He still isn’t back to where he was in 2018-19, but Vasilevskiy has improved of late, posting a  +0.15 GSAx over his last dozen games.

That certainly isn’t a mind-blowing number, but as long as Vasilevskiy provides average goaltending, the Lightning will contend throughout the spring.

The Philadelphia Flyers are hanging tough in the Eastern Conference playoff race, but they are a tough team to project. The Flyers are streaky and somehow, those streaks end up balancing out and put the Flyers right in the middle of the pack.

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