NHL Odds, Preview, Prediction: Lightning vs. Senators (March 23)

NHL Odds, Preview, Prediction: Lightning vs. Senators (March 23) article feature image

André Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Cam Talbot (33) and his Ottawa Senators teammates.

  • The Senators host the Lightning on Thursday night as the race for the postseason heats up.
  • Both teams are coming off losses and will be looking to get back on track Thursday.
  • Grant White details his best bet below.

Lightning vs Senators Odds

Lightning Odds-150
Senators Odds+125
Over/Under6.5 (Over 128)
Time7 p.m. ET
Odds via FanDuel Sportsbook. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.

The Ottawa Senators have put forth some valiant efforts as they try to salvage their playoff chances, and they'll have to bring their A-game as they take on the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Ottawa recently gave the Toronto Maple Leafs and Boston Bruins all they could handle. Still, the Senators' success is more pronounced on home ice and I'm expecting a bounce-back effort after Ottawa dropped a 2-1 decision to the Bruins on Tuesday night. When I factor in the downturn in the Lightning's analytics, it becomes evident the advantage lies in backing the underdog home squad in Thursday's Atlantic Division matchup.

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Tampa Bay Lightning

Tampa has been going through a bit of a rough patch lately. The Bolts have dropped nine of their past 14, albeit with two losses coming in overtime. Sadly, those losses will likely continue, given Tampa Bay's ineffective performances over the past few weeks.

The Lightning's recent efforts are analogous to their season as a whole. The three-time reigning Eastern Conference champions have watched their metrics tumble this year and that's clearly illustrated over their recent sample. The Lightning have been outplayed in three of their previous five games, yielding a cumulative 46.6% expected goals-for percentage.

It's also worth noting the Lightning aren't the same tough out on the road they used to be. Tampa Bay has seen a drastic drop in its road metrics this year and has put together a 48.2% expected goals-for rating as the visitors, which ranks in the bottom half of the NHL. Somehow, that benchmark has been lowered as the Lightning have been outplayed in seven of their past eight games and have a 42.0% rating across that span. Worse, the only opponent they outplayed was the lowly Montreal Canadiens.

Ottawa Senators

The Senators have been keeping things close lately and have dropped one-goal decisions to some of the best teams in the NHL. However, they have yet to break through. Ottawa kept things close against the Leafs and Bruins, and stayed within striking distance of the Colorado Avalanche a few games prior. Now, Ottawa is are back on home ice for four of its next five — this could be the turning point in the Sens' season.

Ottawa has a distinct dichotomy between its road and home metrics. As the visitors, the Sens have put together the 12th-worst expected goals-for rating and eighth-worst points percentage. Conversely, the Senators are thriving at home, accumulating the 11th-best expected goals-for rate. Moreover, their recent home surge leaves little doubt they will give the Lightning all they can handle.

Ottawa has outplayed five of its past six opponents on home ice, usually in convincing fashion. Across the modest six-game sample, the Sens have put together a 60.0% expected goals-for rating. More impressively, they've crossed that threshold in three of the six games, while outplaying their opponents on both ends of the ice. All told, the Sens are 4-1-1 over that stretch while out-chancing their opponents 62-40 in quality chances.

Lightning vs. Senators Pick

The Lightning have the advantage in the standings, but these teams couldn't be further apart analytically. Ottawa is one of the best in the league at home and is trending better lately. Tampa Bay is on the other end of the spectrum, watching its analytics deteriorate at the wrong time of year.

As such, we're backing the home side as plus-money underdogs.

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