Free Picks: Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Florida Panthers

Lightning vs Panthers NHL
Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Florida Panthers, NHL, Amalie Arena

Tampa got whacked 7-2 on Tuesday in Nashville, and although coach Jon Cooper laid the blame elsewhere, you can’t escape the fact that back-up Curtis McElhinney made only 15 saves for a miserable .682 save percentage. You can expect a different Tampa team on Thursday against the Florida Panthers with No. 1 Andrei Vasilevskiy likely back in goal.

Tampa and Florida locked in three-way race

Tampa, which is still a favorite in the NHL Stanley Cup odds, got blown out 7-2 to Nashville. Will they turn it around against Florida on Thursday?

Tampa’s Steven Stamkos will likely miss his third straight game. The Panthers are shorthanded too. Having lost defenseman Aaron Ekblad to a season-ending injury, they acquired Buffalo defenseman Brandon Montour as a replacement at the trade deadline.

In other injury news, Panthers forward Carter Verhaeghe is listed as week-to-week. But Florida winger Anthony Duclair has returned after missing six games.

Tampa, Carolina and Florida locked in a three-way tie at the top of the Central Division. There is not much to choose between Tampa (28-12-2) and Florida (27-12-4).

Florida is 7-3-0 in the last 10 games. Tampa is no longer the team that steamrolled through the first two months of the season. They are 4-6 in their last 10.

When I go about making my NHL picks, I look at new faces in the lineup. Newly acquired Tampa defenseman David Savard made his debut on Tuesday. He was a minus-4 in 19:23 of ice time. The status of newly acquired Panthers forward Sam Bennett is not yet known.

When I’m making my NHL predictions, I look at recent results. Florida lost three straight before edging Dallas 3-2 in overtime on Tuesday. But the bounces haven’t been going their way. Maybe their luck turns.

The starting goalies will likely be Andrei Vasilevskiy for Tampa (25-6-1) and Sergei Bobrovsky (15-7-2) for Florida.

The season series is locked at 2-2. The last game on March 21 went to Tampa, 5-3. All of the games have been high scoring, with each game seeing at least seven total goals.

II think the best sports bet today is taking Florida (-201) to cover the Puck Line (+1.5) with 10Bet. A riskier wager, and one I’m tempted to make because of the potential payout, is Florida with the Money Line (+125) with 10Bet.

Although these teams have scored bushels of goals when they meet, I think this is a tighter game, and I’m taking the Under (-103) on total goals (5.5) with 10Bet.


  • The total has gone Under in four of Florida’s last five games.
  • Florida is 7-3 SU in their last 10 games.
  • The total has gone Over in four of Tampa’s last five games.
  • Tampa has gone 15-4 SU in their last 19 games at home.

More NHL Free Picks

See more
NHL Draft 2021

NHL Draft 2021 Odds & Predictions

With the future of the NHL in the hands of all 32 owners, the NHL Draft is one of the most hyped events on the hockey calendar.

Vegas Golden Knights vs Minnesota Wild NHL Stanley Cup 2021 Round 1

Free Picks: Wild vs. Golden Knights, 2021 Stanley Cup Round 1

The Minnesota Wild travel to Vegas to play the Golden Knights on Sunday at 3 p.m. ET in their round 1 playoff series. Vegas seems destined.

Nashville Predators vs Carolina Hurricanes NHL Stanley Cup 2021 Round 1

Free Picks: Hurricanes vs Predators, 2021 Stanley Cup Round 1

The Number 1 ranked Hurricanes battle it out against the underdog Predators in the Central Division. Can Nashville hang with the big dogs in round 1?

New York Islanders vs Pittsburgh Penguins NHL Stanley Cup 2021 Round 1

Free Picks: Islanders vs. Penguins, 2021 Stanley Cup Round 1

The Pittsburgh Penguins open at home in their best-of-seven playoff series against the N.Y. Islanders on Sunday. The Penguins are favored.

I live in the land of ice and snow in Toronto, Canada's largest city. I can't skate very well, but I know sports, especially hockey, after a long career writing about the Toronto Maple Leafs and other teams at the country's largest newspaper, the Toronto Star. Betting on sports can be a rewarding experience when you understand the trends and underlying characteristics of the teams and players before laying down a bet. That's how I hope to point you in the right direction.