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NHL Playoffs Game 2 Betting Odds, Preview: Do You Dare Fade the Lightning Again?

Credit:

Kim Klement, USA Today Sports. Pictured: Sergei Bobrovsky, Nick Foligno

The second night of the NHL Playoffs lacked the chaos we saw on Wednesday, but there was still some interesting stuff to dig into. I was especially intrigued by the way Game 1 between Carolina and Washington went according to script.

The Capitals defeated the Hurricanes, 4-2 (including an empty-net goal), but were generally outplayed at 5-on-5. When you adjust for score and venue, the Hurricanes generated more scoring chances, expected goals and shot attempts than the Capitals.

If you’ve been paying attention to the Hurricanes and/or Capitals for the past few seasons you knew there was a good chance this would happen. The Canes are always near the top of the totem pole in terms of shot share, xG% and scoring chances while the Capitals don’t generate a ton of chances or shots, they do tend to convert the ones they create.

Heatmap via Natural Stat Trick.

Washington closed at -150 in Game 1 and I’ll be interested to see where the Game 2 line ends up. If bettors pile on the Caps after their victory in Game 1, I’ll be looking to back Carolina again.

Now onto Friday night’s action.

Betting odds: Columbus Blue Jackets at Tampa Bay Lightning

  • Blue Jackets moneyline: +240
  • Lightning moneyline: -270
  • Over/Under: 6.5
  • Time: 7 p.m. ET
  • TV: USA

The betting market tends to overreact during the NHL Playoffs and this game is Exhibit A.

The Tampa Bay Lightning lost, 4-3, in Game 1 after blowing a 3-0 lead. That doesn’t happen to the Presidents’ Trophy winners and certainly caught the entire hockey-sphere off guard.

After their historic performance in the regular season it would be very surprising to see Tampa Bay go down 2-0 to the Blue Jackets. Sure, Columbus is a decent team but the Lightning are in a league of their own.

That being said, this line is out of whack and you only need to look at the odds from Wednesday night when the Lightning closed as -230 favorites. The same two teams are playing on Friday night. They are playing in the same building. They are on the same rest. And yet, Tampa’s line is 40 cents higher than it was in Game 1. That is absolute madness.

Bettors will tell you that Tampa Bay is a lock because there’s no way it can go down 0-2 in the first round.

The Lightning will probably win this game — the odds already tell you that — and it takes some courage to bet against them in this spot, but ask yourself this question: If this game was played 100 times, would Tampa Bay win it 70.7% of the time? Heck no.

Take the terrific value with Columbus and, win or lose, feel good about the value you got by reading the market. I’d feel good about playing Columbus at +210 or higher.

The bet: Columbus Blue Jackets +240

Betting odds: Pittsburgh Penguins at New York Islanders

  • Penguins moneyline: -125
  • Islanders moneyline: +115
  • Over/Under: 5.5
  • Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
  • TV: NBCSN

The same logic from the Blue Jackets vs. Lightning game can be applied to this one, although the overreaction isn’t as egregious.

On Wednesday night the Penguins closed at -108, making them slight road favorites. That is a pretty fair line given Pittsburgh’s talent advantage over New York, even if the latter is the best defensive team in the NHL.

Opinions on this series were pretty much all over the place heading into Game 1 and I don’t think the Islanders’ 4-3 OT win did much to sway many opinions.

On paper, Pittsburgh is the better team and even though the Isles do a great job of turning games into rock fights, it’s hard to see a team with Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang, Phil Kessel and Jake Guentzel fall to a team that gives Leo Komarov a regular shift.

I think one thing that oddsmakers and modelers are not accounting for is that the core of the Isles’ defense — Adam Pelech, Ryan Pulock, Scott Mayfield and Devon Toews — has taken a huge step forward this season. Those four aren’t well-known around the NHL, but they are effective in all three zones and helped the Islanders turn Game 1 into a virtual coin flip.

The Penguins controlled the shot share, but the Islanders got the better opportunities, which is par for the course with a Barry Trotz-coached team.

With the Islanders having home-ice advantage, I’ve got this game as another virtual coin flip and I’m happy to take the Islanders at +115.

The bet: New York Islanders +115


All odds courtesy of the Westgate SuperBook and current as of 12 a.m. ET

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