NHL Playoffs Betting Tip: Can the Lightning, Penguins Avoid Being Swept?

NHL Playoffs Betting Tip: Can the Lightning, Penguins Avoid Being Swept? article feature image
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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Mikhail Sergachev

  • The Tampa Bay Lightning and Pittsburgh Penguins are down 0-3 in their opening round series.
  • Using Bet Labs, we analyze how teams on the verge of being swept have performed in Game 4.

The Tampa Bay Lightning and Pittsburgh Penguins are on the verge of being swept in the first round of the NHL Playoffs. Few expected the Lightning and Pens to be in this situation as each were favored in their opening round series.

Tampa Bay dominated the regular season finishing with 62 wins — tied for the most victories in league history. No Presidents’ Trophy winner has ever been swept in the opening round of the playoffs.

Pittsburgh entered the playoffs having won two of the past three Stanley Cups. This is the 29th playoff series for the Penguins since drafting Sidney Crosby — the team has been swept only once (2013 Conference Finals) and it has never exited the first round after four games.

Finding the back of the net has been an issue for both clubs. The Lightning have been outscored 12-2 since taking an early 3-0 lead in Game 1 and Pittsburgh has held the lead for just about three minutes in the first three games.

Game 4 is Tuesday night for the Lightning (7 p.m. ET, CNBC) and Penguins (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN). The Columbus Blue Jackets and New York Islanders have their brooms out, so can the Lightning and Pens avoid being swept?

Since 2005, teams down 0-3 have gone 26-22 (54.2%) straight up (SU) in Game 4 according to Bet Labs. With their season on the line, teams on the threshold of elimination have won more often than not.

One might think the Penguins have an advantage playing in Pittsburgh, but home ice hasn’t mattered much. Teams trying to avoid the sweep have gone 15-13 (53.6%) in front of the home crowd. The win rate for all home teams in the playoffs: 632-516 (55.1%) since 2005.

A better predictor of success is the betting line. The best way to know if a team on the brink of being eliminated will live to play another day is whether it is favored to win.

Teams down 0-3 that are the betting favorites in Game 4 have gone 11-5 (68.8%) SU since 2005. It is a small sample, but favorites trying to avoid being swept have won at a higher rate than the chalk in the rest of the playoffs: 676-472 (58.9%).

There have been 188 NHL playoff series in which a team has fallen behind 0-3 — only four times has a squad rallied to win the series. The Los Angeles Kings were the last to accomplish the feat in the 2014 Western Conference quarterfinals against the San Jose Sharks.

Oddsmakers don’t expect the Lightning (+400 to come back against the Blue Jackets) or Penguins (+850) to advance to the next round. However, don’t be surprised if Tampa Bay and Pittsburgh win Game 4.

The Lightning opened as -145 favorites and the Penguins -165.