Friday NHL Odds, Picks, Prediction: Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Anaheim Ducks Betting Preview

Friday NHL Odds, Picks, Prediction: Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Anaheim Ducks Betting Preview article feature image

Andrew D. Bernstein/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Andrei Vasilevskiy

Lightning vs. Ducks Odds

Lightning Odds-225
Ducks Odds+180
Time10 p.m. ET
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.

It's no surprise that the ultra competitive, two-time defending champion Lightning rose to the occasion when being forced to play an NHL game with just four defensemen, besting Los Angeles 6-4.

The Bolts will now enter this one able to ice a full lineup against a Ducks team that has plummeted to sixth in the Pacific on points percentage in the midst of a 2-7-1 stretch of play.

Will Anaheim be able to stop the bleeding here skating as a massive home underdog?

Lightning Still Dangerous

As if the Lightning weren't good enough before, they have seen a notable uptick to their power play with the utterly lethal Nikita Kucherov back in the lineup, posting a 5-1-0 record and +11 goal differential since his return.

The power play has scored in each of the last four games, posting a 28.57% success rate over that span. With Kucherov back, the Lightning are now icing the same lethal unit that posted a ridiculous 32.4% success rate throughout 23 games during last year's Cup run. It's safe to say at full-health it's a top 5 unit.

The even-strength play has stayed strong, with a 54.25 xGF% over those four games, including Tuesday's spectacular performance in LA.

They may have only had four, but it's enough when those guys are Victor Hedman, Ryan McDonagh, Mikhail Sergachev and Cal Foote, who continues to develop into a real find for the Lightning.

They will now be eligible to receive additions, and although the third pairing will likely be less strong than at full strength, it's clear the Lightning are capable of managing the losses or Erik Cernak and Jan Rutta on the back end.

A question mark for this game will be whether or not the Lightning choose to go with Andrei Vasilevskiy or Brian Elliott with a game Saturday in San Jose. I would lean towards Vasi going here, but it is certainly worth looking for any word before puck drop.

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Ducks Trending Downward

Anaheim seemed a likely regression candidate after its unbelievable start to the season that made it one of the most fun stories in the league.

However, with several players skating in career best form to start, and a number of young pieces being relied upon for heavy roles, it's not shocking to see the Ducks take a step backward closer to the results we expected from this roster.

Anaheim has posted a 2-7-1 record with a dreadful 41.57 xGF% since the break, and although the Ducks will undoubtedly trend upward skating at closer to full health, the drop-off in play has been very considerable. It will take a significantly stronger effort than we have seen of late to find a result here against the Lightning.

Anaheim could receive some reinforcements in Troy Terry, Cam Fowler and Sonny Milano who's statuses are all unclear.

John Gibson should get the start in net, and he has been true to form with a +4.9 goals saved above expected rating and a .918 save % throughout 28 games played.

Lightning vs. Ducks Pick

Moving forward it could be a good idea to tread lightly when fading the Ducks, as this is a low point in the season surely assisted by the crucial roster losses. With that said, it's very hard for me to see them turning it around against the Lightning in full flight.

Tampa Bay's tremendous form of late has allowed it to cover the puck-line in six of seven games, and Anaheim's current form makes me think backing Tampa to do so again here at well past plus money holds value.

The gap between Elliott and Vasilevskiy is significant, though, and I will risk a slightly worse line here on the Bolts to see if Tampa will truly commit to winning this one with a Vasi start.

Should Vasilevskiy be confirmed — which should be information available after the morning skate — I am comfortable backing the Lightning puck-line at +115 and would play it down to +100.

Pick: Tampa Bay Puckline (-1.5 +115) If Vasilevskiy starts

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