Florida Panthers at Tampa Bay Lightning

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The Lightning and the Panthers have been two of the best teams in the Central Division and the NHL with both teams winning 20 games or more on the season. Both teams are coming off big wins and with the two best records in the division, the battle of Florida should be more exciting than ever with both teams looking like Stanley Cup contenders and possessing complete teams.

Panthers scoring has led to great season

The Panthers have surprised many with their strong start to the season and with the team having 20 wins past the halfway point of the season, it’s clear that the record is no fluke. The strong season can be mainly credited to the great play on the offensive end with the Panthers scoring 3.4 goals per game led by six skaters with 6 goals or more this season. Alexsander Barkov is leading the scoring with 12 goals and 22 assists but the team possesses two great lines of offense, forcing defenses to play great the entire game.

While the offense has led the way for the Panthers, the defense has put this team over the top as they only allow 2.7 goals per game and have displayed depth on the defensive end. MacKenzie Weegar and Radko Gudas have been a great pairing, combining for 4 defensive point shares but Aaron Ekblad and Keith Yandle have also been great on the defensive side, combining for 2.4 defensive point shares. In addition, backup goaltender Chris Driedger has stepped up, only surrounding 2.4 goals per game to allow Sergei Bobrovsky more nights off to keep him well-rested.

Lightning offense is hard to stop

The Tampa Bay Lightning have looked ready to repeat as Stanley Cup champions as they continue to look like one of the best teams in the NHL and display little to no weakness on their roster. The offense is scoring 3.6 goals per game and the top line possesses 3 goal scorers with 10 goals or more with Steven Stamkos leading the way with 14 goals. Moreover, defenseman Victor Hedman has 6 goals and 23 assists and is one of the best players in the game from the point.

Speaking of Hedman, he leads a defense that is only surrendering 2.3 goals per game with 2.1 defensive point shares and 44 blocked shots. In addition to Hedman, the Lightning have gotten great play from Ryan McDonough and Mikhail Sergachev with McDonough blocking 61 shots this season. The defense gets a massive boost from their starting goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy who is playing at a Vezina Trophy level, saving .932 percent of shots and allowing only 1.9 goals per game.

The Bottom Line
What to bet on this game.

Full-Game Side Bet
Rating:

This is going to be a great game between two good teams and while many people would want to bet the underdog Panthers in this game, the Lightning should be able to control this game and find open ice throughout the game. The Lightning should be able to find goals from Victor Hedman creating at the point whether he’s shooting the puck on the net or finding skaters like Steven Stamkos near the net. Likewise, the Lightning should be able to limit the Panthers’ great offense with Andrei Vasilevskiy continuing his impressive run where it seems like he’s posting a shutout every night. The Lightning should win this game and continue their impressive run.

Prediction:
Lightning (-143)

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Full-Game Total Pick
Rating:

Both teams have explosive offenses that can pile on the goals. While it might be intriguing to bet the Over, it’s important to keep in mind that these teams haven’t face defenses as well as the ones that both the Lightning and Panthers possess. The Lightning should be able to eliminate the Panthers’ offense with Victor Hedman constantly breaking up scoring chances and Andrei Vasilevskiy continuing to be a wall in the goal. Likewise, the Panthers should be able to limit the Lightning attack with MacKenzie Weegar and Radko Gudas constantly keeping an eye out for the Lightning top line and Victor Hedman from the point. Expect the Under to cover with both teams playing great defense.

Prediction:
Under 6