Lightning vs. Hurricanes: Free Picks, Odds & Predictions

Lightning vs Hurricanes NHL
Tampa Bay vs. Carolina, Amalie Arena

No division in the NHL is more hotly-contested right now than the Central with three teams all within two points of each other in the final stretch of the season. The Carolina Hurricanes currently sit atop the division, just a single win clear of the Tampa Bay Lightning, who host the Hurricanes on Monday and Tuesday. The Lightning have been uncharacteristically bad the past three games while the Hurricanes have been steady for much of the past two months. Carolina has lost just four times in regulation since the end of February, earning point sin 20 of its 24 games. Meanwhile, Tampa Bay has just five wins in its last 12 contests and does not look like a team ready to defend its championship.

Free Picks

Of all the players I could have picked from the Hurricanes, I picked someone with just 11 goals thus far this season. However, three of those goals have come against Tampa Bay, including two in the previous meeting between the teams. I am a big fan of the +275 odds from the legal sports betting sites in New Jersey, but also how well Martin Necas has played recently. Necas went on a dry spell with no points in five straight games after his two-goal, two-assist performance on March 27 against Tampa Bay, but he’s responded with five points in his last five games. He’s scored two goals in that span and I like taking the risk on someone like him to score an important goal in Monday’s contest.

MARTIN NECAS SCORES GOALS

What stands out about the Lightning over the past week is how vulnerable they are defensively. Two teams in the last three games scored at least five goals against Tampa Bay, which is something I think Carolina can take advantage of Monday. The odds from the NHL betting sites in New Jersey are a reasonable +180 for the Hurricanes to score at least four goals, which is something I think they can do despite the opponent. They have done so in roughly half of their games since the beginning of March, and three times in the last six games.

CAROLINA HURRICANES OVER 3.5 GOALS

Carolina is playing with more confidence and more momentum at the moment compared with Tampa Bay, which has lost seven of its last 12 games. Even being at home did not help spark the Lightning against the Panthers last week, so I doubt it will provide a jolt against the Hurricanes. This is Carolina’s first road game in nearly three weeks, but the Hurricanes are still a strong road team and their brand of hockey travels well. The Hurricanes’ stiff defense and underappreciated offense will be able to compete with and exploit some of the issues with the Lightning at the moment. So I’m more than comfortable with the +160 odds from the hockey betting sites in New Jersey on the Hurricanes to win Monday night.

CAROLINA HURRICANES WIN IN REGULATION

Best Odds

Tampa Bay Carolina
888Sport
-120 -103
FanDuel
-118 +100
BetMGM
-120 +100

Statistics

Head to Head

This is the seventh of eight matchups this season between Tampa Bay and Carolina having split the first six games between the two teams.

Stats

  • The past 12 games have been uncharacteristically bad for the Lightning, which go beyond the 5-7-0 record. Tampa Bay has been outscored by nine goals, outshot, its power play is operating at just 12.9 percent while its penalty kill has been successful on just 81.8 percent of kills.
  • The Hurricanes have the NHL’s best power play, converting on nearly 28 percent of their chances on the man advantage. This is impressive considering Carolina draws the third fewest penalty minutes per game. However, Carolina’s power play has scored in just four of the team’s last 14 games and just once in their last 13 power plays.
  • Victor Hedman is in a race to be the top-scoring defenseman in the NHL, trailing John Carlson by one point for the title. He has eight goals and 33 assists to lead the team with 41 points, but his mere presence is key to the offense’s success. Hedman has been on the nice for 75 of Tampa Bay’s goals this season, ranking fourth in the league and accounting for slightly more than half of the Lightning’s total this year.
  • All six of Carolina’s top-six scorers have more assists than goals this season as the Hurricanes have 11 players with at least 10 assists this season. Only Nino Niederreiter and Brock McGinn have more goals than assists this season among players with at least 30 games played this season.

Our Prediction for Tampa Bay vs. Carolina

Carolina Hurricanes to win

Despite having one of the best goalies in the NHL, the Tampa Bay Lightning have struggled the last three games. The Carolina Hurricanes are coming to town with a lot of momentum with a 17-4-3 record since Feb. 27. As weird as it sounds, Carolina is the better team at the moment and I expect that will carry over into Monday’s game. Tampa Bay without Steven Stamkos is a shell of its former self and Nikita Kucherov can’t get healthy fast enough for this group. In the meantime, the Hurricanes will ride their momentum into a larger lead in the Central Division with another big win.

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Josh Walfish is an award-winning journalist who has been covering college and professional sports in the United States. He holds a journalism degree from Northwestern University and his work has appeared in the Miami Herald, Chicago Sun-Times and Providence Journal. He most recently chronicled the UMass hockey teams rise to prominence over the last two years for the local newspaper

All Reviews by Josh Walfish

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