Free NHL Picks: Lightning to Strike Out vs. Canucks

Ross Benjamin

Saturday, October 18, 2014 2:37 PM GMT

Saturday, Oct. 18, 2014 2:37 PM GMT

Our resident NHL handicapping expert Ross Benjamin provides us with a betting preview on tonight’s Lightning/Canucks battle, and also includes his money line free pick in this game.

Early Non-Conference NHL Intrigue
The Canucks will host the Lightning at the Rogers Arena in Vancouver with a slated 10:05 PM ET start. According to the NHL betting odds at Bookmaker, the Canucks are listed as a -115 money line favorite, and the posted total is 5.5. Tampa Bay has won 4 of their last 5-games versus Vancouver. If your NHL picks have included going over the total when these teams have collided, it’s been a successful sports betting venture. There’s been only 3-games that have gone under the total during the last 17-times the teams have met, and that includes 4 of the last 5-games in Vancouver going over the total.

 

Taking to the Road for the First Time
The Tampa Bay Lightning was afforded the luxury of playing their first 4-games of the 2014-2015 NHL campaign at home. They were able to capture 5 of 8-points possible during that time, and saw 3 of the 4-games go under the total. The Lightning has been cast as one of the early favorites to win the Atlantic Division, and certainly would be considered a serious threat this season in the NHL Eastern Conference overall standings. The Lightning have struggled in recent games versus Western Conference opponents going 1-5 in the last 6, and have gone 1-4 in the last 5 versus Pacific Division foes.

 

Great Start for the Canucks
After last season’s meltdown down the stretch of the regular season, that prevented the Vancouver Canucks from qualifying for the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs, it was imperative that they were able to get off to a positive start to the 2014-2015 year. If early results are any indications, the Canucks have definitely received the memo. They were a 2-0 shutout winner at Edmonton last night, and that improved their record to 3-0. Although it’s still early, if they hope to keep pace in an extremely strong Pacific Division, they can’t afford to squander opportunities to win games such as last night versus a vastly inferior Edmonton Oilers club. Ryan Miller earned his first shutout in a Canucks uniform last night by stopping all 28 Edmonton shots on goal. On a negative note, the Canucks are 1-7 in their last 8 when playing with no rest, and are 2-12 in the last 14 versus Eastern Conference opponents.

 

Final Analysis
This will be the first true measuring stick of the season for the Vancouver Canucks tonight, and will be by far their toughest opponent they’ve faced so far. The Lightning has struggled in recent history when traveling to the Pacific time zone, and they’ll be facing an opponent that’s playing with confidence. My small lean for your NHL picks pertaining to this game lies with the small home favorite.

Free NHL Pick: Vancouver -115 over Tampa Bay at 5Dimes

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