Battle of Florida Round Two
The Florida Panthers and Tampa Bay Lighting are inner-state rivals in arguably the toughest division in hockey, with both teams engaged in a battle in the standings all season long for the best playoff spot possible. These two squads could be first-round playoff opponents in the Spring.
However, the battle to be the best hockey team in Florida reengages on Saturday when the Panthers travel to Tampa Bay to take on the Lighting in the second of four head-to-head matchups this season.
We’ll get you ready for round two of the Battle of Florida by reviewing the trends, information, stats, and odds and making our predictions.
Panthers Surviving Despite Early-Season Injuries
The Florida Panthers enter Saturday’s matchup with a 13-10-4 record, winning three of their last five matchups. All five games have ended in at least a 1.5-goal spread, while all five games scored at least six total goals.
The Florida Panthers were without franchise cornerstone defenseman Aaron Ekblad for three weeks and are still working their way back up to their preseason expectations.
Injuries continue to be a story for the Panthers as their best goalie, Spencer Knight, and number one center, Aleksander Barkov, headline the Florida Panthers injury report, both listed as day-to-day by ESPN.
Matthew Tkachuk, always a prop bet target, leads the Panthers with thirty-seven points (thirteen goals, twenty-four assists).
The Panthers are averaging 3.48 goals per game on 38.8 shots while giving up 3.26 goals on 31.5 shots per game. The Panthers’ powerplay is converting on 20.6% of their opportunities (21 powerplay goals) and is ranked 25th in the NHL. Florida’s penalty kill is 19th in the league, killing 76.5% of their penalties (24 powerplay goals against).
With Knight listed as day-to-day, we expect Sergei Bobvorsky to get the start. Bobrovsky has a 5-6-1 record, a 3.51 goals-against average, and a .884 save percentage.
Scoop on Free Play from the Locker Room
Lighting Quietly Re-emerging as Contender
The Lightning never went away or fell off; they just needed a minute to recover from their third straight Stanley Cup finals. Tampa Bay has overcome a slow early season start and enters Saturday’s battle of Florida with a 16-9-1 record.
The Lightning have won three of their last five games, with four ending with at least a 1.5-goal spread, while three games had at least six total goals scored.
Nikita Kucherov leads Tampa Bay in scoring with 38 points (11 goals, 27 assists). Kucherov, Stephen Stamkos, Brayden Point, and Mikhail Sergachev are your prime prop bet targets for the Lightning.
Tampa Bay averages 3.50 goals per game on 31.7 shots while giving up 3.08 goals on 30.9 shots per game. The Lightning’s powerplay is ranked fourth in the NHL, converting on 28.9% of their chances (28 powerplay goals). Tampa Bay’s penalty killers are operating at 78.7% (19 powerplay goals against), ranking them 16th overall in the NHL.
Considering Brian Elliot started in Tampa Bay’s last matchup, a 5-2 win over Nashville on Thursday. Andrei Vasilevskiy will get the start Friday. Vasilevskiy is still one of the best goalies in the league and currently has a 10-8-1 record, with a 2.75 goals-against average and a .909 save percentage.
Panthers vs Lightning Game Injuries
Panthers vs Lightning Head-to-Head
This is the second of four head-to-head matchups between the Florida Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning in 2022-23.
Tampa Bay won the first match 3-2 in overtime on October 21. Brayden Point scored twice, and Stephen Stamkos added a goal, while Andrei Vasilevskiy made 36 saves in the win.
Matthew Tkachuk and Rudolfs Balcer scored for the Florida Panthers, while Sergei Bobrovsky made 29 saves.
Panthers vs Lightning Game Information
- Game: Panthers (13-10-4) vs Lightning (16-9-1)
- Location: Amalie Arena, Tampa, FL
- Day/Time: Saturday, December 10th, 4:30 p.m. ET
- Panthers vs Lightning Live Stream: NHL.TV
Panthers vs Lightning Betting Lines
Panthers vs Lightning Picks & Prediction
We like Andrei Vasilevskiy to be the better goalie and get the victory over the Florida Panthers on Saturday night. Tampa Bay will win the second edition of the Battle of Florida, but it will be a close game, so we expect the Panthers to cover the goal spread.
The Florida Panthers are listed at +120 in our Vegas NHL Lines. This means that if you wager $100 on the Panthers, you have a chance to win $120. The Tampa Bay Lightning is -140, offering a chance to win $71.
The implied probability attached to the betting lines gives the Panthers a 45.45% chance to win, with the Lightning at 58.33%.