Florida Panthers at Tampa Bay Lightning Betting Preview

NHL Previews

First place in the Central Division is on the line on Thursday night when the Tampa Bay Lightning host the Florida Panthers. These two teams are both Stanley Cup title contenders, but winning the division is always the first goal to achieve.

Florida has been scuffling a bit of late, having lost three of its last four games. The Panthers have a roster that is loaded with young talent, but this team has shown the ability to win games when needed.

Tampa Bay is the defending Stanley Cup champion, and this is a team that has a ton of veterans on the roster. The Lightning have gone just 2-3 in the last five games but are hoping that a return home will straighten things out. 

Panthers Pushing the Tempo

The Panthers want to play fast, which usually creates a wide-open hockey game with plenty of great scoring chances. Florida is scoring 3.1 goals per game, but it is also allowing 2.7 goals on the other end.

Aleksander Barkov leads the way on the offensive end of the ice with 18 goals and 44 total points. It is Jonathan Huberdeau that really gets things going for his teammates, as he has a team-high 29 assists.

Goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky will be a big key in this game as the Lightning are going to come at him with a potent lineup. Bobrovsky has stopped 91 percent of shots faced, and he will need to be great on Thursday night. 

Lightning Killing it on Special Teams

The Lightning know that special teams play wins hockey games, and this team does it better than almost any other in the league. Tampa Bay has killed off 83 percent of its own penalties while converting 25 percent of the time on the power play.

Defenseman Victor Hedman is the best at that position in the NHL, and he leads the Lightning with 31 assists and 38 total points. Brayden Point has a team-high 17 goals on the year, but Tampa Bay has several capable goal-scorers on its roster. 

Tampa Bay holds opponents to just 2.5 goals per game, and it is always solid on that end of the ice. This will be a challenge against the Panthers, but the Lightning know how to slow an opponent down. 

Panthers Pull Off Upset

Both of these teams can score goals, and there is a ton of offensive talent on each of these rosters. Tampa Bay has been the much better defensive team, but Florida has ways to create scoring opportunities.

The Lightning appear to be saving some energy for the playoffs, and they are missing that sense of urgency. Florida has been looking to prove people wrong all season long, and that motivation gives them a slight edge on Thursday night. 

This should be one of the best games in the NHL on Thursday night, and it’s going to come down to the final minutes. Look for Florida to get a late goal to stun the Lightning in Tampa Bay and come away with the victory. 

For more Dunkel Index picks, check out our NHL picks page.



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