NHL Picks: Tampa Bay Lightning at Florida Panthers Odds
by Darin Zank - 1/21/2011
As the NHL's regular season heads into its second half, the two Florida teams are on opposite ends of the standings in the Southeast Division. But are they really that far apart? We'll get a better idea Friday night when the first-place Tampa Bay Lightning head cross-state to skate with the last-place Florida Panthers at the Bank Atlantic Center in that hockey hotbed of Sunrise (7:30 p.m. EST).
Tampa beat Columbus Tuesday night, 3-2, in a shootout, breaking a two-game losing streak. And they got two goals from league-leader Steven Stamkos on their way to a 3-2 shootout victory in Atlanta Thursday night. This brings the Lightning to 4-4 over their last eight games. But while Tampa leads the Southeast Division and owns the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference, they've actually been outscored on the season by 10 goals.
The Panthers, meanwhile, lost a tough one Wednesday night, giving up the tying score in the final minute, then allowing the game-winner with a minute left in overtime to fall, 3-2, to the Blue Jackets. This makes Florida just 3-5 over its last eight games. But while the Panthers sit in last place in the Southeast, they've outscored their opponents by four goals on the season.
More importantly, Florida owns the No. 10 spot in the East standings, as they trail eighth-seeded Atlanta by seven points.
Florida has won the first two meetings between these teams this season, blanking the Lightning, 6-0, back during the first week of the season, then winning, 4-3, in a shootout a month later. Both those games played ‘over’ their totals.
Last season these two teams split their six games. And those games split 3-3 on the totals, averaging just under six total goals per.
These two teams have been playing near the opposite ends on the ‘over/under’ spectrum this season. Tampa is 26-21 on the totals, as Lightning games are averaging six goals per, while Florida is 16-25 on the O/Us, as Panthers games are averaging 5.3 goals.
Tampa ranks ninth in the league in both power-play efficiency at nearly 21 percent and in penalty killing at 83 percent. The Lighting also do a pretty good job of holding on to the puck, ranking sixth in SOG and third in shots against.
The Panthers have scored a few power-play goals lately, but they're still ranked dead last in the league in PP efficiency at a lowly 12 percent. For a little reference, Chicago leads the league at just under 25 percent.
But at the other end of the ice, Florida ranks fourth-best in the league in penalty killing at 85 percent. Pittsburgh leads the league at 88 percent.
Florida goalie Tomas Vokoun is 16-17 this season, with a 2.48 GAA and a .921 saves percentage. And he picked up the win in the Panthers two previous victories over Tampa this season, allowing three goals on 66 shots.
Tampa is 4-3 with veteran tender Dwayne Roloson in goal, after bringing him over from the Islanders three weeks ago. On the season 41-year-old Roli is 10-17, with a 2.7 GAA and a .914 saves percentage.
On the NHL futures betting market Tampa is listed at 7/1 at Bodog to win the Eastern Conference this season, and at 14/1 to win the Stanley Cup. Florida, meanwhile, can be had at 60/1 to win the East and 125/1 to win the Cup.
NHL Odds: Tampa Bay Lightning at Florida Panthers
The Panthers are early -125 favorites at most hockey books for Friday night's game, according to NHL odds, with Tampa getting +105 as the underdogs. And the total started out at 5.5 goals (over -125).
Tampa Bay Lightning at Florida Panthers Betting Trends
The Lightning are 28-20 overall this season, 14-14 on the road. Florida is 21-24 overall, 11-12 at home.
Five of the last six games in this series have played ‘over’ the totals.
The Panthers have won five of the last seven games in this series.
NHL Picks: Lightning at Panthers
These two teams know each other pretty well, and split their season series last year. Florida has won the first two meetings this year by a combined score of 9-3 (without the shootout), but that just might mean Tampa is due a little revenge. The Lightning are also a bit more balanced, and they're underdogs, so we'll take Tampa Bay in this one.
Robert Ferringo has had seven of eight winning nights for his NHL picks and his hockey handicapping clients are up $7,000 on the season already, and he expects to have more big-money plays coming this weekend.
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