The Tampa Bay Lightning and Nashville Predators are each the respective No. 3 seeds in each respective conference. On Thursday, they’ll meet up in Tampa Bay for one of the better matchups of the night. The Lightning opened as a -143 favorite on the NHL betting lines for this showdown.
The Nashville Predators Can Win Because…
They’ve won two straight and appear to be back on track. They’ve been in the midst of a slump over the last few weeks but seeing the Predators win consecutive games should get their confidence back.; although not enough as they're short dogs on the posted NHL betting odds. The key is – as per usual – goaltender Pekka Rinne, who has allowed just two goals in those two games. He’s now given up two goals or less in six of his last eight starts. When he’s playing like a Vezina Trophy caliber goaltender, this is a completely different team.
The other reason to take a look at Nashville in this game is the betting line. The Preds and Lightning are about equal, and although Tampa Bay has home-ice advantage, they are still laying a sizable number here. It’s as high as -165 in some books and if the NHL betting line continues to climb, you might want to look Nashville’s way based on value. Tampa Bay has an edge here but it’s not as massive as the line shows.
The Tampa Bay Lightning Can Win Because…
They’re playing great right now. Entering Thursday’s action, the Lightning have won four straight and eight of 10. Their only two losses were on the road in Boston (via shootout) and at home to Winnipeg, who is one of the hotter teams in the league. Other than that, Tampa Bay has been on the money. We know that their offense is quite consistent as they’re the league’s highest scoring team. But that unit has delivered even more so of late. They’ve scored least three goals in four straight while averaging 4.0 per outing. At the other end of the ice, they’ve been smothering as they’ve given up just 2.09 goals per game this month. That’s the fifth-best number in March.
It’s unclear if Nashville is in fact through their slump as they’ve still just won four of their last 13 games – even though they’ve won back-to-back. And with Tampa Bay having home-ice advantage, they should be the clear play in this game. While it’s a matchup of two teams who are about even in the standings, they’re both playing quite differently going into this one.
Home-ice advantage could be a big factor in this game. Nashville is 28-15 at home compared to 17-20 on the road. As for Tampa Bay, no team in the NHL has more home wins than the Lightning. They are 30-8 at home compared to 16-20 on the road. That being the case, I’m willing to take a shot with the Lightning at -143 because the price seems about right there. But if the line continues to climb, I’d be more inclined to play the under with my NHL picks.
NHL Pick: Lightning -143 at The Greek