Presidents’ Trophy Winners on Brink
It wasn’t too long ago that the Tampa Bay Lightning’s quest for a third straight Stanley Cup title, something that hasn’t happened since the New York Islanders won four in row from 1980-84, was on the verge of ending.
After winning two elimination games against the Toronto Maple Leafs, Tampa Bay has won the first three games against the Florida Panthers. A win on Monday night would leave Tampa Bay four wins shy of a third straight appearance in the Stanley Cup Final.
The team winning the Presidents’ Trophy coming up short in the postseason is not a new phenomenon. No team that has finished with the most points in the regular season has advanced past the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs since the New York Rangers in 2015. The last team to win the NHL championship during the same season when they had the most points during the regular season was the Chicago Blackhawks in 2013.
According to the NHL playoff odds, Tampa Bay and Florida were tied at +550 for the second-best odds to win the Stanley Cup championship before Game 2. Now, Tampa Bay is second at +275 while Florida’s odds have dropped to +3300.
Power Outage for Panthers
No team in the NHL scored more goals during the regular season than Florida’s 340. That is the highest total since the 1995-96 Pittsburgh Penguins scored 362 goals.
Florida has just three goals in the first three games of the series against Tampa Bay, with one scored each by Eetu Luostarinen, Anthony Duclair and Sam Reinhart.
Florida scored 19 goals in four games against Tampa Bay during the regular season. Seven different players had at least two goals, led by Duclair scoring three times.
The fewest goals the Panthers scored in a three-game stretch during the regular season was five against Colorado, Ottawa and Los Angeles from Dec. 12-16.
It might be a good time for 30-goal scorers Jonathan Huberdeau and Aleksandar Barkov to find a way to beat Tampa Bay goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy. If that doesn’t happen, a memorable season could end much earlier than the Panthers would like.
The Las Vegas odds total has gone under in eight of Florida’s last 12 games.
Postseason Play Agrees with Kucherov
There is something about the Stanley Cup Playoffs that brings out the best in veteran Tampa Bay Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov.
Kucherov had 66 points in 48 playoff games to help the Lightning win back-to-back titles. Kucherov has two goals and five assists in the three games against the Florida Panthers.
Kucherov had a goal and three assists in a 5-1 win in Game 3. It was his fifth multi-point game in these playoffs. He has scored at least two points 23 times in his last 58 postseason contests.
Passing perfection 🤌 pic.twitter.com/jEX5vAqiIE
— Tampa Bay Lightning (@TBLightning) May 22, 2022
Kucherov had the assist on the overtime winner in Game 2 and now he will be front and center as Tampa Bay looks for its sixth trip to the Eastern Conference finals since 2011. There was no Eastern/Western Conference format in 2021 due to the global pandemic.
The NHL betting lines total has gone under in seven of the Lightning’s last nine contests against Florida.
Panthers vs Lightning Head-to-Head
Tampa Bay has won nine of the last 13 games against the Panthers, including four in a row. The Lightning have outscored the Panthers 19-7 during that four-game winning streak, including 11-3 in this series.
Florida has lost four of its last five games played in Tampa. The Panthers have scored two goals or less in five of the last eight games in the series.
Six of the last nine games between Florida and Tampa Bay have had five goals or less scored.
Tampa Bay has won five of the last six one-goal games against Florida.
Something to consider for those who bet online, the money is favoring Tampa Bay winning in five games (+300). That is followed by the Lightning winning in six games (+450) and Florida winning in seven (+900).
Panthers vs Lightning Game Information
- Game: Panthers (58-18-6 in the regular season); Lightning (51-23-8)
- Location: Amalie Arena, Tampa, Florida
- Day/Time: Monday, 7 p.m. ET
- Panthers vs Lightning LiveStream: NHL.TV
Panthers vs Lightning Betting Lines
Panthers vs Lightning Prediction
Florida has only had to kill off five Tampa Bay power plays in the two games after the Lightning were 3 for 6 in the first game of the series. The Panthers are just 1 of 10 with the man advantage during the series. They were 0-for-25 on the power play in the postseason before Reinhart finally broke through in Game 3.
The scary part of the domination by the Lightning is that center Brayden Point has yet to play in the series for Tampa Bay after he suffered a lower-body injury in the Game 7 win against Toronto in the last series. Keep an eye on Point’s status, although it would be surprising to see him on the ice on Monday night.
Florida’s Mason Marchment has been ruled out of Game 4 with a lower-body injury. Marchment had 18 goals and 29 assists during the regular season, including a goal and two assists in three games against Tampa Bay.
The Panthers seem to be too talented to be swept out of the playoffs, but Tampa Bay knows how to finish teams off and the Lightning have the last two Stanley Cup championships to prove it. Look for the Panthers to find a way to extend the series, even on the road.
Pick: Panthers +105
Pick: Florida Panthers +1½ (-220)