Lightning vs. Panthers Odds, Picks: Betting Value on Tampa Bay (Tuesday, May 17)

Lightning vs. Panthers Odds, Picks: Betting Value on Tampa Bay (Tuesday, May 17) article feature image

Eakin Howard/Getty Images. Pictured: Andrei Vasilevskiy

  • The Panthers are home favorites in Game 1 against the Lightning.
  • With Brayden Point unlikely to play, do the Lightning have the depth to win without him?
  • Tony Sartori breaks down the matchup and shares his best bet below.

Lightning vs. Panthers Odds

Lightning Odds+135
Panthers Odds-160
Over/Under6.5  (-135 / +110)
Time7 p.m. ET
Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.

The first game of the Stanley Cup Playoffs Second Round is set to get underway as the Florida Panthers host the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday night. These two teams squared off four times during the regular season as they split the series with two wins each.

Will the Panthers get the job done as a home favorite, or can the Lightning pull off the road upset to start the series on a high note?

Lightning Can Survive Without Brayden Point

The Tampa Bay Lightning will look to keep their momentum rolling as they won two straight elimination games to beat the Toronto Maple Leafs in seven. Starting goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy was incredible over those two games as he stopped 60 of 64 shots for a 0.938 save percentage against one of the league's best offenses.

While he has not been officially declared out, star forward Brayden Point is listed as "highly doubtful" for Game 1. Consequently, I believe we are getting great value on the Lightning moneyline.

The Lightning and their backers would obviously prefer him to be in the lineup, but the Lightning have done just fine without him this year as they possess one of the deepest lineups in the league. In the 16 games the Lightning have played without Point this season, they are 13-2-1 straight up.

Early money has come in on the Panthers due to the Point news, which has given us an even more favorable line for the Lightning. As a road underdog this postseason, the Lightning are 2-2 straight up and 3-1 against the spread.

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Panthers Defense Needs to Step Up

The Florida Panthers will also look to keep their momentum going as they won three straight games to beat the Washington Capitals in six. In a series where many expected Florida to beat Washington in five or fewer games, the Capitals exposed some flaws in the Panthers' game, which should be a concern moving forward.

Though they won the Presidents' Trophy, the Panthers' defense and goaltending were shaky against a Capitals team that does not have a very deep offense past its top six, especially considering Washington was without Tom Wilson. Florida's defense has been a concern all season as it ranks just 17th in the league in five-on-five Expected Goals Against per 60 minutes (xGA).

Panthers starting goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky was not bad in the first round, but he was also nothing special as he generated a 0.906 save percentage in six games. A bigger concern is Bobrovsky's performance against the Lightning in the regular season.

When facing Tampa Bay this season, Bobrovsky possesses a troubling 0.850 save percentage and 4.03 Goals Allowed Average. With the goaltending battle being a crucial element in any playoff series, Bobrovsky falls short of Vasilevskiy in every key metric and statistical category.

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Lightning vs. Panthers Pick

This price is just too long on the Lightning to pass up. While it is driven up by the absence of Point, their record without him this season makes me think this is an overreaction by the market.

Furthermore, I believe Tampa Bay is just a better team than Florida even without Point. While Florida's offense is deeper, Tampa Bay has a better defense, better goaltender, and a more experienced head coach.

Under the current playoff format that was adopted in 2014, the Presidents' Trophy winners have advanced past the Second Round just once. While that does not have much bearing on Game 1 of this series and did not go into my handicapping of this specific game, it is an interesting fact.

Pick: Tampa Bay Lightning ML (+140) | Play down to (+120)

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