Tuesday night marks the first meeting of the 2021-22 NHL season for the defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning and Florida Panthers, but it’s chapter 15 of their rivalry. These state rivals have never been more heated as the Lightning ousted the Panthers in the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season, but not without a fight.
Tampa Bay is not the same team as it was last season. It is also without star winger Nikita Kucherov. And yet the Lightning are still the favorites per the NHL betting odds. Florida has a solid chance to get one back against Tampa Bay.
|Team||Puck Line||Moneyline||Total||Team Total|
|Florida||+1½ -210||+105||6 -120o||2½ -155o/+115u|
|Tampa Bay||-1½ +175||-125||6 Evu||3½ +105o/-145u|
Panthers: Better Team in Florida?
The results may say otherwise, but Florida (2-0-0) has a case for being the better team in the state. The Panthers outshot the Lightning in 12 of their 14 meetings last season, but couldn’t get past Andrei Vasilevskiy enough. Florida went 7-6-1 against Tampa Bay last season and 3-3-1 at Amalie Arena.
Florida had a winning record against Tampa Bay without Kucherov (5-2-1). The Panthers play a more physical and aggressive approach to the Lightning. In some cases, their forceful methods can work out, especially if their goaltender is up the task. In this game, blue-chip goaltending prospect Spencer Knight will take the reins for Florida.
Two analysts have Aaron Ekblad winning the Norris Trophy (Best defenseman)
John Tortorella has Spencer Knight winning the Vezina Trophy (best goalie)
8 analysts have Spencer Knight winning the Calder Trophy (best rookie)
David (@David954FLA) October 12, 2021
Knight went 4-0-0 last season with a .919 save percentage (SV%) and 2.61 adjusted goals against average (adjGAA) last season. If he can maintain his sterling performances, the Panthers will be profitable on online sports betting.
Lightning: Still Got It
Tampa Bay (2-1-0) had a rough start to the season. The team uncharacteristically allowed 13 goals in its first two games but returned to form in beating Washington 2-1. Vasilevskiy’s numbers of .890 SV% and 3.57 adjGAA are a far cry from what he is capable of.
Even more concerning for Tampa Bay is the loss of Kucherov and a chunk of its defense, including Zach Bogosian (lower body) and Jan Rutta (undisclosed). The Lightning needed the help of their checking line and their bigger defensemen to handle the aggression of the Panthers last season and they’ll be without them.
However, this team still has one of the best top-six forwards and Victor Hedman leads a capable crop of defensemen. Tampa Bay is not what it once was, but it’s still good enough to beat any team.
The Panthers will kick themselves if they let this opportunity to beat Tampa Bay go. Florida is healthier and hotter and can take the fight to a reeling Lightning team. Bets online have thus been more towards the underdogs betting them down from +145 to +105.
Vasilevskiy will prove to be difficult to beat. But the reigning Conn Smyth winner had his worst games against the Panthers with averages of only .898 SV% and 3.36 goals against average (GAA) in the regular season without Kucherov.
In the playoffs, Vasilevskiy put on a better performance and the Lightning kept capitalizing on the Panthers’ mistakes. Florida is the better team here and even if Vasilevskiy stands on his head, the Panthers should edge the Lightning.
Pick: Florida Panthers +105
Five of Florida’s last six games have gone over and its rivalry against Tampa has generally seen back-and-forth shootouts. However, while the action should stay fast and furious, expect the goaltenders to minimize the scoring. We won’t be surprised if the final score here totals four or fewer goals or even a shutout for the winning team.