Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 4:00 PM EST.
7:35 PM EST. OT included. The Panthers remain the hottest team on ice that nobody knows about. The Panthers have won 13 of their last 16 games and defeated both Toronto and Pittsburgh over that span. They’re coming off a 4-1 victory over a then red-hot Philadelphia team. The Panthers are one point out of a Wild Card spot but they have three games in hand so they will not control their own destiny without needing help from anyone. The media and market dies not believe the Panthers are for real or they are just so far under the radar that nobody has noticed. Roberto Luongo has been excellent since returning from a groin injury, with a 6-1-0 record, a 2.27 goals-against average and a .935 save percentage. He has won each of his last five starts. We cannot overstate how much more relaxed a team is when it is getting stable goaltending every night, which is what the Panthers are getting right now. To give you an idea of how much havoc the Panthers are creating these days, they rank 1st in the league in penalty differential over the past five weeks at +25. The next closest team is +15.
Ryan McDonagh is still out and will miss this game too but all anyone wants to talk about is how Steve Yzerman went out and picked up the best D-men available at the deadline. While that is debatable (some were available that didn’t get moved), Yzerman was desperate to get some help back there because he knows how flawed the Bolts are back there. Once again, the market and NHL media only see TB’s record and report how great they are. They’re not great. They’re great when Andrei Vasilevskiy is great just like Pittsburgh is great when Matt Murray is great and just like Toronto is great when Andersen is great. The Lightning defense is brutally awful. They rank 24th in Corsi Against/60 over the past five weeks. Tampa’s last five games have all gone to OT. They’re coming off an extremely luck driven, 7-6 SO victory over Philadelphia in which they buried six goals on 31 shots. The game prior, the Bolts beat Dallas 5-4, also in OT but the Stars were skating circles around them. Tampa scored five time on 25 shots. They game before that, Buffalo outplayed them and beat them too and the Sabres were without Eichel, Okposo and they just traded Evander Kane. The record is great and the offense is great and very dangerous but that offense will inevitably cool off because the shooting % is unsustainable. The Panthers may not win here but they’re too good to be taking back prices like this.
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Florida +162 (Risking 2 units - To Win: 3.24)