NHL Odds, Preview, Prediction: Flyers vs. Lightning (October 18) — Early Struggles Mean Value on Tampa
Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images. Pictured: Steven Stamkos.
Flyers vs. Lightning Odds
|Time||7 p.m. ET|
|Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.|
Going into the season, you might not have guessed that the Flyers would jump out ahead of the Lightning, but how much does that early lead matter, and should that sway your decision when picking a team for Tuesday's contest?
Philadelphia's Flying Surprisingly High
The Flyers were expected to be bad this season. They had a 25-46-11 record last season, and they had Claude Giroux for most of that campaign before acknowledging their dreary position by trading him to Florida for prospect Owen Tippett and draft picks.
To make things even sadder, their top center, Sean Couturier, hasn't played yet in 2022-23 due to a back injury, top-four defenseman Ryan Ellis (back) might not play at all this season, and Artem Anisimov (lower body), Rasmus Ristolainen (lower body), and Tippett (upper body) have joined those key players on the sidelines.
And yet, Philadelphia managed to win its first two games. Travis Konecny is off to a fantastic start with three goals and four points, while Carter Hart has played some solid hockey, posting a 2.00 GAA and .940 save percentage. Carter's hot start in particular has been encouraging given how much of the Flyers' struggles over the last couple years have gone hand-in-hand with his own.
Expectations need to be tempered, though. Not only was it only two games, but those contests were against New Jersey and Vancouver. Those squads aren't at the bottom rung of the NHL this season, but they're not the cream of the crop either.
Tampa Bay is a far bigger test for the Flyers.
Same Old Lightning?
At least, that's the conventional wisdom. I'd be remiss if I didn't note the Lightning's 1-2-0 record. Again, at this time of the season, you have to fight against the urge to read too much into these small sample sizes, but there were small reasons to be concerned about Tampa Bay even before the season started.
For one thing, this is a group that's reached the Stanley Cup Final for three consecutive years, and while that's obviously an amazing accomplishment, it's also a draining one. At what point does fatigue set in?
Their cap burdens also forced them to part ways with forward Ondrej Palat and defenseman Ryan McDonagh over the summer. That doesn't change the fact that the core of this team is still amazing, but they were two important pieces of the puzzle in Tampa Bay and this team doesn't have the same level of depth without them.
All that being said, do you really want to bet on the Flyers against a squad that features Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov, and Brayden Point up front, Victor Hedman on the blueline, and Andrei Vasilevskiy in net?
Also, keep in mind that Tampa Bay's first three games were on the road and the two losses were versus good competition in the Rangers and Penguins. Now the Lightning have returned for their home opener. This has the makings of what should be a strong showing for Tampa Bay.
Flyers vs. Lightning Pick
Ultimately, Tampa Bay is the better team on paper, and it's not close, honestly. If anything, the Flyers' hot start combined with Tampa Bay's lukewarm opening only serve to make the Lightning a more enticing bet, because it might have swayed some people into Philadelphia's camp and made picking the Lightning — which would have been the obvious choice at the start of the season — come with a bit of a higher payout.
I feel confident enough in Tampa Bay that I'd even take them with the 1.5 spread against them on the puck line.
Pick: Tampa Bay Lightning puck line +105 (play to -130)