NHL Picks: Lightning vs. Panthers

Joe Catalano

Saturday, February 16, 2013 1:44 PM GMT

Saturday, Feb. 16, 2013 1:44 PM GMT

In the sole early game on the NHL schedule for Saturday, the Tampa Bay Lightning (6-6-1) face off against the Florida Panthers (4-6-3). Let's have a look at the NHL odds set for this matchup.

Both teams are on major losing streaks but one will be stopped here as they fight to get back into the playoff race in this abbreviated season.

Face off is scheduled for 3:00 pm ET at the BB&T Center in Sunrise, Florida.

5 Dimes Sportsbook lists Tampa Bay as a -120 betting odds favorite with the total listed at 5.5 (+105).

Someone Has to Win…

Both of these teams are on huge losing skids. Despite having the number 1 offense in the NHL, the Lightning have lost 6 straight games to leave them 2 points behind the Rangers for the 8th and last spot in the Eastern Conference while Florida has lost 3 straight and are 2nd to last in the conference.

Mere points separate the two teams. Therefore, it’s crucial for one of these teams to snap their losing streak. But which of these two failing teams do we back with our free NHL picks?

No Offensive Threats

In their last game, goalie, Jose Theodore, finally came up with a huge performance, but the Panthers offense let him down. He faced 32 shots on goal but was unable to stop Rene Borque in overtime as the Montreal Canadians came away with a hard fought 1-0 victory.

Florida ranks 25thin offense at just 2.2 goals per game and will be hard-pressed to keep pace with the best offense in the NHL. Will Theodore be up to the task and put up back to back outstanding performances will be the question here?

Florida’s defense has also proven to let them down; a team that gives up nearly 4 goals per game won’t be seeing the playoffs in the near future.

A lot of pressure will be on Jonathan Huberdeau and Tomas Fleischmann in this game. Fleischmann has been able to rack up the SOG but hasn’t put the puck in the net as much as he would’ve liked to.

Lamp Lighters

Offense is no problem for the Tampa Bay Lightning as they average an eye popping 3.8 goals per game and have taken advantage of the power play, converting 26.4% of the time. This is a very good matchup for the Lightning and you can see why they’re the slight betting favorite on the road.

Precision Passing

Right Winger, Martin St. Louis has been the perfect complimentary player this season. He leads the team in scoring and has 15 assists in just 13 games. I don’t know about the Lady Bing Trophy, but St. Louis is rarely going to put the Lightning at a disadvantage and he’ll keep the defense on their heels.

Assisting St. Louis, are centers, Steven Stamkos and Vincent Lecavalier. Lecavalier isn’t afraid to rough it up, but he brings a lot of veteran leadership to this team and is a big reason why the offense has been so effective.

Injury Update

Anders Lindback has been fighting an illness, but was said to be improving during Friday’s practice. Expect to see him in net against the Panthers. He’s been quite success this season at 5-3-1, with a 2.94 GAA.

[gameodds]7/218605/43/us[/gameodds]

Head to Head Trends

Lightning are 5-0 in the last 5 meetings

Over is 5-1 in the last 6 meetings

Who Breaks Their Losing Streak?

Although Jose Theodore is coming off of a strong showing in his last game, this is a perfect matchup for the best offense in the league in Tampa Bay. Look for a relatively close game, but the Lightning should win here.

NHL Picks  – Tampa Bay Lightning -120

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