For the third time in the past month, the Tampa Bay Lightning have lost three straight games. Tampa Bay is in danger of falling out of the top three in the Atlantic Division. But, a win against the Boston Bruins, who have won seven of nine and are tied with the Lightning in the standings, would go a long way for Jon Cooper’s team.
The Bruins-Lightning matchup is the definite headliner of Friday’s light five-game schedule. Let’s run through each with an eye to the NHL betting lines.
Bruins vs Lightning
The Boston Bruins and Tampa Bay Lightning find themselves in a dead heat for the third spot in the Atlantic Division as the regular season winds down. With Boston leading the season series 2-1, a win in Friday’s meeting would give them the tiebreaker over Tampa Bay and that would be huge.
The Bruins have lost just five games since the middle of February and have been consistently great for essentially the whole season. Tampa Bay, on the other hand, has struggled recently and Andrei Vasilevskiy has had uncharacteristically weak back-to-back starts in the net.
With that said, the Lightning are solid home favorites. This should be a close game so the move could be to take Tampa Bay to win in regulation because the Lightning are too good to be held down for this long.
Sabres vs Panthers
To the surprise of absolutely no one, the Florida Panthers are looking pretty good with Claude Giroux in their lineup. Florida has won five straight and is scoring boatloads of goals. The Panthers have had three seven-goal games during their current streak, highlighted by a 7-6 comeback overtime win over the Toronto Maple Leafs this week.
So, the Buffalo Sabres will have their hands full as they try to slow down Florida on Friday night. Buffalo is also at a rest disadvantage after losing 5-3 to the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday.
The Panthers are enormous home favorites on the BetUS sportsbook. The move is to parlay Florida on the puckline with the over in order to get value out of this game.
Islanders vs Hurricanes
The New York Islanders’ furious push toward a potential Wild Card berth continues as they take on the Carolina Hurricanes. The Islanders’ four-game winning streak was snapped by the Dallas Stars on Tuesday, but they need to start another one if they’re going to have a shot to unseat the Washington Capitals from the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
Carolina did beat the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday but the Hurricanes have been underwhelming for the last month or so. But, with the New York Rangers just two points behind them in the Metropolitan Division, the Hurricanes need to turn things around if they want to win the division.
With that said, go with the Islanders straight-up as pretty big road underdogs. They are at a rest advantage and could even have Ilya Sorokin back in net. Even if Sorokin can’t play, Semyon Varlamov has been great for New York as of late.
Wild vs Blues
One one point separates the Minnesota Wild and St. Louis Blues in the race for second place in the Central Division behind the Colorado Avalanche. Minnesota has a slight edge on St. Louis but a lot can change with two more meetings left between these teams — one Friday and one next weekend.
Despite losing 6-2 to the Nashville Predators in their last game, the Wild have been great for the last month or so. They’re 9-1-1 in their last 11 games, which almost perfectly coincides with Minnesota’s trade for Marc-Andre Fleury. Both Fleury and Cam Talbot have locked things down in net. St. Louis is also on a heater with three straight wins (and five of six).
Minnesota is a slight road favorite. If you’re betting online, go with the Wild straight-up because they should be able to bounce back after a disappointing performance. Also, Ville Husso might get the day off because the Predators play again on Saturday. Also, you can check NHL player props for the Minnesota Wild vs Winnipeg Jets game.
Avalanche vs Jets
The streaking Colorado Avalanche look to extend their winning streak to five games as they visit the slumping Winnipeg Jets, who have dropped three straight. The Jets are still alive in the Western Conference wild card race but they have a lot of work to do.
Colorado is coming off an impressive home-and-home sweep of the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Avalanche are clicking on all cylinders at the right time. They have a massive lead in the Central Division and could wrap up the top seed in the West at some point next week.
The Avalanche are sizable road favorites here and you should take Colorado on the puckline. There’s a chance Pavel Francouz starts but, either way, the Avalanche are just too hot to bet against right now.