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Lightning, Panthers Jockey for Playoff Position in Battle of Florida

Aleksander Barkov and the Florida Panthers are betting underdogs in NHL odds for their Thursday night clash with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The Florida Panthers take on the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday night in the fifth “Battle of Florida” this season and the first game in a two-game set. The season series is tied 2-2 and all four were high-scoring with totals of 10, 8, 7 and 7.

Florida Panthers vs Tampa Bay Lightning
  • Date/Time: April 15, 7 p.m. ET
  • Arena: Amalie Arena
  • TV Coverage: SunS
  • Opening Odds: Lightning -147 | O/U 6 (Line History)
  • Panthers vs Lightning Matchup Report

Opening Odds Analysis

The game opened with the Lightning as favorites at -147 and the line has moved to either -150 or -155 depending on the book. The total opened at 6 and has stayed at that number with the UNDER favored at most sportsbooks in the -111 to -120 range.

Florida News & Notes

The Florida Panthers are tied with the Lightning and Carolina Hurricanes at the top of the Central Division with 58 points. One of the top teams in the league this season, the Panthers were active at the trade deadline to bolster an already strong lineup, adding defenseman Brandon Montour from Buffalo and forward Sam Bennett from Calgary.

Those additions should help a team that already ranked highly in several key metrics. The Panthers are 14th in even-strength goals and seventh in expected goals, but they might be even more impressive on the defensive end. Only six teams have allowed fewer even-strength goals than Florida and they rank 10th in expected goals against.

That great defensive play can in part be attributed to one of the best defensive players in the league in Aleksander Barkov. Barkov is a likely Selke Trophy candidate and leads the team with 44 points in 37 games.

Tampa Bay News & Notes

The Tampa Bay Lightning are undoubtedly one of the best teams in the NHL and should be a Stanley Cup favorite. But the last couple of weeks have not been easy for the Lightning, who have gone 4-6-0 in their last 10, including a couple of blowout losses to bad teams. Tampa Bay lost 5-1 to the last-place Red Wings last week and 7-2 to the Predators on Monday.

At the deadline, the Lightning traded for perhaps the best defenseman to move on deadline day, acquiring David Savard from the Blue Jackets. Savard is a prototypical stay-at-home defenseman and has six points in 40 games.

Savard joins a team that ranks fifth in expected goals against this season and has allowed the fifth-fewest even-strength goals. Tampa has also allowed the 10th-fewest high-danger scoring chances at even strength.

Betting Pick: Panthers +130

The Lightning are probably the better team, but the Panthers are not far behind. The Lightning have also struggled a bit of late and the Panthers have already shown they can beat their in-state rivals. On top of that, you are getting great odds to bet Florida with all the juice on the Lightning.

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Shark Bites
  • The total has gone UNDER in 4 of Florida’s last 5 games.
  • The total has gone OVER in the last 5 head-to-head meetings.
  • Florida is 7-3 SU in its last 10 games.