We have some dance partner shuffling going on as the Tampa Bay Lightning and Carolina Hurricanes face each other in an impromptu schedule switching thanks to a Texan-sized winter storm. The online sports betting odds favor the Lightning by a bit.
These teams are battling for supremacy in the Central along with the Florida Panthers. They’ve played once with Carolina emerging victorious 1-0 thanks to overtime. I’m leaning on Carolina to get this one again.
Lightning at Hurricanes Betting Preview
Tampa Bay Lightning: Back to Business
Tampa will get revenge against Florida soon, but for now the Lightning will focus on an equally threatening foe in Carolina. The Lightning looked human against the Panthers allowing six goals in their last game. But now Andrei Vasilevskiy will return in net.
Vasilevskiy is gunning for his second Vezina Trophy in three seasons with a league-leading +9.4 goals saved above average (GSAA) and 95.9 scoring chance save percent (sc SV%). The 2012 first-round pick gives Tampa an edge regardless of how the skaters in front of him play.
The Lightning are like a fine-tuned killing machine. Unless the opponents, like the Panthers, find a way to ruffle their feathers, they will viciously capitalize on any shortcomings from their opponents.
We can pull out most analytics to prove Tampa is the best, but all we need is their PDO at 1.035 due to being top-three in both high danger goals for percent (HDGF%) (2nd at 67.9%) and high danger save percent (HDSV%) (3rd at 88.3%).
Carolina Hurricanes: A Whirlwind Offense
The Canes are out to prove they’re the team to beat in the division. They certainly look that way based on 5-on-5 metrics as they lead in corsi for percent (CF%) (second overall), expected goals for percent (xGF%) (second), and are third in scoring chance for percent (SCF%) (third).
The catch is that Carolina has only faced the Florida teams once each. So they still have plenty to prove. But the eye test confirms this team is fast, dynamic, and growing more intelligent with each game.
The only thing holding Carolina back from storming through the division is their goaltending. While the Lightning have that in spades, the Hurricanes must rely on journeyman James Reimer and the unproven Alex Nedeljkovic. Neither goaltender even has a save percentage hitting 90 percent.
But as long as Carolina keeps playing excellent hockey, they need not worry too much about their goaltenders. They’ll just have to find ways to close out games before their opponents beat them to the punch.
It took overtime for either team to score in their first meeting, but I’m thinking this could feature some heavy back-and-forth. Keep an eye on the totals at over +6.5 here. But in regards to a pick, I’ll go with the Hurricanes as my NHL betting choice here.
Both teams are great at 5-on-5 and that’s because they have great chemistry and are able to exploit their opponents’ mistakes. Once either team controls the puck, they are efficient with it and generate scoring chances.
But when they faced off, the Canes had a distinct speed advantage over the Lightning and it showed when they controlled the puck more often and generated more scoring chances.
Vasilevskiy was just one save short of Petr Mrazek. But even with Reimer or Nedeljkovic the Canes should still get this done.