NHL Odds, Preview, Prediction: Lightning vs. Devils (March 14)

NHL Odds, Preview, Prediction: Lightning vs. Devils (March 14) article feature image

Elsa/Getty Images. Pictured: Nico Hischier and Vitek Vanecek of the New Jersey Devils

  • The Devils host the Lightning in Tuesday's Eastern Conference clash.
  • Opponents have held little trouble handling the Lightning, who now face the fundamentally sound Devils, throughout the season.
  • Below, Dwight Grant explains why the home team should be an even wider favorite tonight.

Lightning vs. Devils Odds

Lightning Odds+115
Devils Odds-135
Over/Under6.5 (-110 / -110)
Time7 p.m. ET
Odds via PointsBet. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.

There is a big gap between the top contenders in the Eastern Conference and the rest of the pack.

The New Jersey Devils have asserted themselves as a legitimate contender this year.

Conversely, the Tampa Bay Lightning are at risk of falling into the latter category. The Bolts have dropped seven of their last 10, albeit with two defeats coming in overtime, clinging to their status as a powerhouse. They could be out of their element as they invade the Prudential Center for a date with the surging Devils.

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Foes Feasting on Tampa Bay Lightning

For years, Tampa Bay was the class of the East. The Lightning have made the Eastern Conference final in three straight seasons, winning hockey's Holy Grail twice. Alas, they've been usurped by a handful of other teams, including their hosts on Tuesday night.

Tampa's metrics are all over the place across its recent schedule. The Bolts have been outplayed in six of their past 10, partially explaining their downturn in outcomes, though they appear to have turned a corner more recently. The Lightning have outplayed their opponents in four straight games, with a cumulative 63.5% expected goals-for rating.

But, when adjusted for opponent and venue, some of the shine wears off the metrics. Two of those contests came against the Philadelphia Flyers and Chicago Blackhawks, and all four came at home. The expectation is the Lighting would have performed exactly as it did.

Their recent bump in metrics doesn't explain their defensive woes. Opponents are having a field day against the Bolts, with seven of their last 12 foes attempting at least 10 high-danger chances.

Combined with Tampa's decreased offensive production, the Lightning have out-chanced their opponents in quality chances just five times over that stretch. Those issues will be compounded by playing on the road against one of the best analytics teams in the league.

New Jersey Devils, Fully Balanced

So far this season, the Devils have compiled the second-best expected goals-for rating. More impressively, they've improved their standing over their current schedule, outpacing some of the NHL's best.

New Jersey has been on another level lately. The Devils have outplayed nine of their past 10 opponents, surpassing the 60.0% threshold in seven of those outings. As expected, that has resulted in a substantial improvement in their expected goals-for rating, with the Metropolitan co-leaders posting a 62.8% benchmark.

Even though there were a few underwhelming opponents, the Devils outplayed some top Stanley Cup contenders, including the Colorado Avalanche, Vegas Golden Knights, Carolina Hurricanes and Toronto Maple Leafs.

The Devils are dictating play on both ends of the ice. They enter Tuesday's inter-divisional matchup on a 14-game streak of at least 10 high-danger chances.

Defensive responsibility hasn't come at the expense of their scorching offense; the Devils have held their opponents to nine or fewer quality chances in all but three of those contests. Likewise, teams haven't attempted more than six high-danger opportunities in four of the last seven.

Lightning vs. Devils Pick

Offense has been the foundation of the Devils' success, and given the Lightning's defensive inefficiencies, that's likely to continue in this Eastern Conference showdown.

Moreover, the Devils have also been incredibly adept at playing with structure in their own end, giving them a leg up on the Bolts in both ends of the ice.

Those advantages aren't reflected in the betting price. The Devils enter tonight's battle as modest -135 chalk, so we're playing that edge and backing the home side in this one.

Pick: Devils -135 (PointsBet)

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