Free Picks: Florida Panthers vs. Tampa Bay Lightning

Panthers vs Lightning NHL week 17
Florida Panthers vs. Tampa Bay Lightning, NHL, BB&T Center

The Florida Panthers (36-14-5) ran their winning streak to five on Saturday, beating the Lightning (36-16-3) and are now 8-2-0 in their last 10. They are the hottest team in the NHL, along with the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Panthers lead the series 4-3, but the Lightning can tie the series on Monday in the last meeting of the season between these two Central Division clubs.

Florida Panthers on a roll

On Saturday, Florida forward Alex Wennberg tallied his second NHL hat trick as the Panthers drubbed Tampa 5-1. Sam Bennett scored again and he now has 15 points (six goals, nine assists) in 10 games since being acquired in a trade on April 12. The Panthers are averaging four goals a game since then.

Puck Line: Tampa is due for a win after two straight defeats, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Lightning get revenge. Florida and Tampa face each other in the first round.

The best sports bet today is taking the Florida Panthers (+1.5) on the Puck Line (-295) with 10Bet, even though it is expensive (bet $295 to win $100), so go lightly. I don’t see the Panthers losing by more than two goals.  And they just might win again.

Over/Under: On total goals, the lean is toward the Under (6.0) with 10Bet (-136) because I don’t think Florida’s scoring level is sustainable. But if you think the Panthers will stay hot, the Over (+108) is worth a look because the total has gone Over in 15 of Florida’s last 19 games against Tampa. 

The Panthers have won the last two games against Tampa by a collective 10-4 margin and Florida needs just one point to secure the No. 2 playoff seed. So I’m not sure the intensity comes down much. The Panthers and Lightning combined for 156 penalty minutes in a final tune-up on Saturday.

Money Line: For my Free Picks, I think a safe bet is either taking Florida (-115) on the Money Line, but if you think Florida will extend its five-game winning streak, a slightly riskier bet on the NHL game odds is taking Tampa (-105) with the Money Line on 10Bet.

If you like Tampa to end a two-game losing skid, a risky bet and one that will pay off big is taking Tampa (-1.5) on the Puck Line (+221) with 10Bet (bet $100 to win $221), although I think it’s highly unlikely Tampa can win by at least two goals and the implied odds (31%) suggest as much.

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  • Florida is 5-5 ATS in their last 10 games.
  • The total has gone Over in four of Florida’s last five games.
  • Tampa is 6-3 SU in their last nine games.
  • Tampa is 4-6 ATS in their last 10 games.

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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.