NHL Picks: Back Lightning -237 Tonight As Canadians Are Officially Burned Out Of The Playoffs

Swinging Johnson

Thursday, March 31, 2016 3:16 PM UTC

Thursday, Mar. 31, 2016 3:16 PM UTC

The Canadiens are playing out the string and eliminated from postseason contention but the Lightning are trying to capture the Atlantic Division title. Let's peruse the NHL odds and find the sharp side.

Montreal Canadiens (35-42, -10.9 units)
The Montreal Canadiens began the season like a house on fire but those flames were slowly doused as the season progressed. Fast forward to the present and Montreal is now officially eliminated from the playoffs, is in the bottom third in goals scored, goals allowed and power play percentage but there is a silver lining in all of this. Yes, their penalty killing unit is ranked 11th so there's that. Little consolation of course to a hockey hotbed like Montreal and its rabid fanbase but there is always next year and the return of one of the greatest goaltenders on the planet, Carey Price.

After dropping four of their last five the Canadiens welcomed divisional rivals the Detroit Red Wings to the Bell Centre on Tuesday night. The Red Wings were installed as -135 road underdogs by the NHL odds makers as it was a game Detroit desperately needed to overtake Boston for third place in the division and avoid dropping out of the playoff race entirely. But it is just another glaring example of the incontrovertible fact that just because a team needs to win doesn't mean they will win. For all of the squares that included Detroit in their NHL picks it was a hard lesson to learn but learn it they did as the Canadiens topped the Wings 4-3.


Tampa Bay Lightning (44-32, +0.7 units)
The Lightning are sparring with the Florida Panthers for the top spot in the Atlantic Division. The prize for first place is a first round matchup with a with a wild card entry in which the division winner will enjoy home ice advantage. Therefore, much is at stake and the Lightning are not coasting as the regular season draws to a close. Tampa Bay has won four of their last five and has averaged four goals per game over those five contests. This is a team that has clicked on all cylinders throughout the season and is in the top 10 in the league for goals scored, goals allowed and penalty killing. Surprisingly, their power play has had a power outage this year as the team ranks 25th in that category connecting on just 16.5 percent of their man-advantaged opportunities.

Ben Bishop has been the fulcrum of this Tampa Bay defense and is a burgeoning star sporting a 2.02 GAA and a .928 save percentage. Bishop was brilliant again on Monday night when he backboned his team to a 3-0 blanking of the Toronto Maple Leafs, turning aside all 34 shots. Victor Hedman tallied a goal and an assist for the Lightning while Mike Blunden and Ondrej Palat each had a lamplighter. Steven Stamkos added two assists and has been on fire for the Lightning with five goals and four assists over the course of his last six games.


Betting Analysis
There's not much to debate here in terms of which team is better or which team has the home ice advantage. Those checkmarks belong in the Lightning column to be sure. The only debatable point is how much value is there in the underdog Montreal Canadiens, whose only motivation is to play the role of the spoiler.

As of this early morning writing there is no line hung on this Atlantic Division tilt but once the oddsmakers decide to put a number on just how big a favorite they will make Tampa Bay then we can determine whether this game is a play or a pass. Unless the oddsmakers give a 3-1 return on the Habs this game is all about your tolerance level for laying the heavy lumber on the Lightning. Meanwhile while you wait for the lines to appear, visit our three free picks for the day in the NHL league. 

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Free NBA Pick: Tampa Bay -237
Best Line Offered: at BetOnline

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