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We are taking a break from the NBA and MLB because there is playoff hockey. Playoff hockey hits a little differently. If you’re a fan, you don’t need any more reason to watch the games, but if you’re a casual fan, why not toss a little money to make the game a little more interesting? Gambling on hockey can be hard, so let’s see what the public is doing and decide if we should follow or fade them.
Lightning (-116) vs. Panthers (-102) 8:00 p.m. ET
This morning when I was doing my research, the Panthers were up to +114, but that has dropped to -102 as of now. That would make you think that the public is backing the Panthers, but it’s actually the opposite. 60% of the public bets are on the Lightning’s Moneyline.
This is the second game in the battle for Florida, and Tampa Bay won Game One 5-4. The Lightning ended the season 36-17-3, good for 3rd in the Central division. They secured a playoff spot, even though they were missing their best player, Nikita Kucherov. In Kucherov’s first game back from hip surgery, he made his presence felt, scoring 2 goals and one assist, helping the Lighting go up 1-0 for the first-round series. The Lightning this season had an SRS (simple rating system) of 0.56 7th in the league, scored on 20.53% of their power play opportunities, and killed 84.15% of their power killing opportunities. They were able to score 181 goals this season, 8th in the league, and allowed 147 goals, 6th in the league. You can almost throw out all of these regular-season games because they missed Kucherov, who has averaged 88 points a season. P.S. I didn’t count his first season, where he only had 18 points because he played only 9 games.
Compare all that to the Panthers, who were a surprise this season. Last year, they finished 35-26-8. They went 37-14-5 and were only one point away from the No. 1 seed in the Central division. Florida this season had an SRS of 0.56 6th in the league, converted on 20.53% of their power play opportunities, and were able to defend 79.76% of their power killing opportunities successfully. The Panthers were able to score 189 goals this season, 5th in the league, and allowed 153 goals, 8th in the league. Jonathan Huberdeau leads Florida in points this season with 61 points.
For Tampa Bay, Andrei Vasilevskiy is in the net. He did let in four goals in Game One of the series, but he played great if you watched the game. The Panthers had 39 shots on goal, and Vasilevskiy was able to stop 35 of those shots. He has a .925 save percentage for the season and allowed an average of 2.21 goals a game. For Florida, Sergei Bobrovsky is starting; he had a similar game to Vasilevskiy, where Sergei allowed five goals but played great. Tampa Bay was able to shoot 40 times on goal, and Sergei stopped 35 of those shots.
The road team has gone 9-20, and the Panthers are great at home. They are 13-3 in their last 16 home games. For this season, Florida has a 20-5-4 home record. After playing on one day of rest, the Panthers are 4-0. I believe that this series will go to at least six games, and if that is the case, Florida will need to win Game Two. This is why I’m fading the public.
The pick: Panthers -102
Wild (+138) vs. Golden Knights (-164) 10:00 p.m. ET
Game One of this series was a matchup of great goalies. The Wild won 1-0 in overtime, and Joel Eriksson Ek scored the game-winner. The public doesn’t believe that Vegas will go down 0-2, as 89% of the picks are on the Golden Knights.
Vegas has been one of the best teams in the league since they were created. They have been in the playoffs in each of their four seasons. Hopefully, they can bounce back after almost being swept from the Stars when they lost 1-4. Vegas once again was great this regular season. They went 40-14-2, good for 2nd in the Western division. They had a 1.05 SRS, scored on 17.82% of their power plays, and successfully defended 86.81% of their power-killing opportunities. Even though Vegas struggled to score in Game One, they averaged 3.39 goals per game.
Minnesota greatly improved from last year, where they went 35-27-7 6th in the Central division and only made the playoffs because almost every team was allowed in. This season, they went 40-14-2, good for 2nd in the Western division. The Wild have a 0.33 SRS, completed 17.58% of their power play opportunities, and successfully stopped 80.75% of their power killing opportunities. The Wild have only four shutouts this year, and on average, they allowed 2.84 goals.
For Vegas, Marc-Andre Fleury is getting the start, and he played great in Game One. Minnesota was able to get 30 shots on goal, and Fluery stopped all but one of them. For the season, Fleury has a .928 save percentage and allowed 2.63 goals a game. For Minnesota, Cam Talbot is going to be in the net. You couldn’t have a better game than Talbot had in Game One. He stopped all 42 shots from Vegas and was able to secure the win. Talbot, for the season, had two shutouts, had a .915 save percentage, and allowed 1.98 goals a game.
The Golden Knights are 6-0 after scoring two goals or less in the previous game and are 7-1 when their opponent scores two goals or less in the previous game. The Wild may be the hot team, but Vegas is the better team. I don’t see the Knights losing this series, and for them to do that, they need to win this game. This is why I’m following the public with my pick.
The pick: Golden Knights -164