Sunday NHL Odds, Picks, Prediction: Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Chicago Blackhawks Betting Preview
Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Patrick Kane.
- The Lightning are overwhelming favorites on the road against the Blackhawks.
- Chicago is destined to miss the playoffs again, while the champs are eyeing another Cup.
- Greg Liodice breaks down the matchup and makes his betting pick below.
Lightning vs. Blackhawks Odds
|Over/Under||6.5 (-105 / -115)|
|Time||7 p.m. ET|
|Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.|
Over in the Windy City, the two time defending champs Tampa Bay Lightning take on the Chicago Blackhawks. It’ll be the first time this season both teams will square off this season, with the reigning champs entering as the overwhelming favorite on the road.
It’s been impressive to see how the Lightning have been able to sustain their dominance over the course of 3 years. The Bolts currently hold the top spot in the Atlantic Division, and are 7-2-1 in their last 10 games. They’ll look to keep it up on the road.
Chicago hasn’t really had the same sort of luck Tampa has had. In fact, the past few years have been a total mess for the organization in general. The Blackhawks managed to go 4-5-1 in their last 10 games and barring a miracle, they’re not making the playoffs.
Tampa Bay Lightning
What’s being done in Central Florida is very difficult in the salary cap era. The Lightning are looking to win their third consecutive Stanley Cup, and they’re rolling through the regular season.
While they’re missing key depth pieces that were critical to their Cup wins, the big dogs are still here. Steven Stamkos is having a great year, while Victor Hedman, Brayden Point and Nikita Kucherov are all averaging more than one point per game.
To no surprise to anyone, but the Lightning have one of the most potent offenses in hockey. Standing at seventh in goals per game (3.41), the Bolts are seventh in both expected goals with a 53.84 xGF% and in high-danger chances. What’s surprising is that they’re not as effective on the power play as most would think.
After a historic power play performance in the playoffs, they only score 20.1% of the time; which is still very good, but low for Lightning standards.
It’s rare to find a team so deadly on both ends of the ice. However based off these past few seasons, we know Tampa is no ordinary team. They’re ninth in goals allowed per game (2.77) and fourth in high danger chances allowed. Their penalty kill is also stellar with an 80.4% success rate.
Andrei Vasilevskiy has proved to everyone that he’s no slouch. The former Vezina and Conn Smythe winner is currently posting elite numbers. With a .921 SV% and a 21.2 GSAx (Goals Saved Above Expected), there’s a chance that “Vasy” will contend for another Vezina trophy. This would’ve been a good game for backup Brian Elliott to play in, but since he just played Friday against Detroit, I think Vasilevskiy will get the nod.
Chicago hasn’t been dealt a great hand all season. The Blackhawks have consistently been in the bottom of the standings, all the while a bunch of off-the-ice drama ensued. They do have a solid foundation in place however, as the contributions from future Hall of Famer Patrick Kane and future star Alex Debrincat haven’t gone unnoticed. They’ve also gotten solid production out of guys like Brandon Hagel and Seth Jones, as well.
On the offensive end, things are a mess for the Blackhawks. They’re 30th in goals per game (2.45), 26th in expected goals with a 46.12 xGF%, and generate the least amount of high danger chances. Given the fact that they have two premier scorers, the power play is one of their bright spots however, as they score with the man advantage 20.7% of the time.
Defensively, they certainly can be better, but goaltending has held them back. Chicago is 24th in the league, allowing 3.38 goals per game, however are relatively decent at preventing high danger chances (6th in the league). The one thing that they need to be better at is their penalty kill. When they’re down a man, they’re abysmal, with only a 75.3% success rate.
After winning his first Vezina trophy last season, many thought Marc-Andre Fleury would help Chicago this season. However, the Fleury project doesn’t seem to be working. Posting a decent .911 SV%, Fleury is among the worst with a -10.8 GSAx.
Backup Kevin Lankinen is also statistically among the worst with an .887 SV% and a second worst -15.1 GSAx. I’m assuming Fleury gets the nod tonight though, as he still provides his team with the best chance to win.
Lightning vs. Blackhawks Pick
Hockey can be very unpredictable, and upsets occur often in this game. I just don’t see an upset happening in this matchup. As a matter of fact, I don’t think it will be close.
With Tampa’s ability to skate circles around teams, and a brick wall for a goaltender, I can’t see a situation where the Lightning don’t win. The Blackhawks are a very poor team, with some solid pieces, but the Lightning are that much better. This has potential to get ugly, and I’m backing the Lightning at -1.5.
Pick: Tampa Bay -1.5 (+105)