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Lightning vs. Panthers NHL Odds & Pick: Is There Betting Value On Tampa Bay? (Monday, May 10)

Lightning vs. Panthers NHL Odds & Pick: Is There Betting Value On Tampa Bay? (Monday, May 10) article feature image

Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Anthony Duclair, Sascha Barkov

  • The Florida Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning will hit the ice for an all-Florida NHL showdown on Monday night.
  • While it should be a tight game, Matt Russell sees value on one side, and he thinks the wrong team might be favored.
  • Check out Russell's full betting guide complete with updated odds and a pick below.

Lightning vs. Panthers Odds

Lightning Odds+118
Panthers Odds-136
TimeMonday, 7 p.m. ET
Odds as of Monday evening and via DraftKings.

Thankfully the NHL doesn’t have a play-in round this season like the NBA. Never a consideration, because the NHL and hockey as a sport doesn’t have the same concern over tanking games, and the first round of the playoffs don’t need any augmentation, or tricks to gain viewership. I assume Lebron James would approve. 

Instead, we find ourselves with quasi-Play-in games, which are less about getting in the playoffs this season, and more about jockeying for positioning. In the case of this in-state Florida rivalry, the Tampa Bay Lightning and Florida Panthers, are dueling to see who will have the first and seventh games of their upcoming playoff series in their comfort of home. Just like the NBA’s play-in system, it’s going to take the Panthers two successful attempts to get where they’d like to go. Or more appropriately, stay where they are. 

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Tampa Bay Lightning

The defending Stanley Cup Champions are at risk of having to start the Stanley Cup Playoffs on the road in round one. Somewhat appropriately, they were afforded two chances to secure a game one at home. 

Saturday’s first attempt to gain the second-seed in the Central Division went awry when the Panthers won 5-1. It was a game whose final score was more than a bit deceiving. The two teams combined for just five High-Danger Chances at even strength, with the Panthers edging the Lightning 3-2. Florida took advantage of their seven(!) power play opportunities scoring once, and using the man-advantage to keep Tampa off the board, only allowing the Bolts one power play chance. 

It’s debatable how much the Lightning really care about getting home-ice advantage. They gave Andrei Vasilevskiy the weekend off in Detroit a week ago. They almost pulled it off taking 3 of 4 points against the Red Wings. Then they sat their MVP again on Friday, and gave a casual effort in a loss to the Stars. The next night they allowed last season’s playoff MVP, Victor Hedman, to rest. Saturday’s game devolved into more of a trading of messages, as the teams got their playoff intensity practice in, on the way to 136 penalty minutes, and a rabid Patrick Maroon getting suspended for inappropriate conduct. 

WIth the tiebreaker in tow, the Lightning didn’t need to win on Saturday, knowing tonight’s rematch was on the docket. A win in regulation for the Lightning would give them the 2-seed. Even if Tampa doesn’t care about where they finish, the physical confrontations should have poked the bear that is the Bolts. 

Expected goals (also known as xG) is a predictive statistic that gives an indication of whether results are based on sustainable factors like a steady creation of scoring chances, or whether it is down to aspects such as shooting luck or outstanding goaltending.

Simply put, an expected goals rate (xGF%) above 50% is considered good because it means a team is creating the majority of the scoring chances. Anything below 50% is usually a sign that a team is struggling to control play.

xG numbers and advanced stats cited from Evolving Hockey, MoneyPuck and Natural Stat Trick.

Florida Panthers

There’s no way to measure how much it mattered that the Panthers needed the game more than the Lightning on Saturday. They are the challenger to the champion, after all. Whether they started the message-sending too soon is up for debate and only time will tell. What we can rely on, are the metrics for the Panthers, even if they tell something of a strange story. 

The Panthers season seemed to be in big trouble when star defenseman, Aaron Ekblad, had his season ended with an injury 20 games ago. At the time, the Panthers’ strong season appeared to be something of a metric mirage as they rated just 1% above-average at even-strength by my “Let’s Do That Hockey” model, as heard on THE WINDOW: Sports Betting Podcast. However, since then the Panthers have actually improved their 5-on-5 play to a rating of 9% above-average. This is thanks to an even-strength average of 2.03 Expected Goals For to 1.67 Expected Goals against in their 20 games since. While both numbers have increased, it’s the jump from 1.77 XGF to 2.03 that’s telling.

Lightning-Panthers Best Bet

In their games this season, the Lightning have the even-strength advantage accumulating 10.57 Expected Goals to 9.5 for the Panthers. Truthfully, there’s not much separating these two teams as currently constructed. My model gives Tampa Bay a 51% chance of winning this game. Their moneyline price is commonly available at +100, so we’re not talking about a ton of value here, though it’s much more of a fair price than if you were looking to back the Panthers’ side.

Whether the bear within the Bolts was poked thoroughly on Saturday, or the urgency of getting home-ice advantage finally has struck, I think we’ll see a full effort for Tampa in their last chance to feel out Florida before their showdown series starts next week. As an added element, all the Panthers need is to force overtime to secure a point and clinch second place, which may result in a loss of concentration should we need overtime to settle tonight’s game. Either way, at even-money, I’m willing to see if the Champs are able to set the tone for next week’s rematch when it’s not just a play-in game, but a play-on series. 

Pick: Lightning ML (+100 or better)

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