Lightning vs. Hurricanes Odds
|Time||Tuesday, 6:30 p.m. ET|
|Odds as of Monday and via DraftKings|
The Carolina Hurricanes have fought admirably through tough injuries up front in this series, but they now face a 3-1 deficit to a juggernaut Tampa Bay Lightning squad that is every bit why they emerged as last season’s cup champion.
Game 4 was an absolute barnburner that saw an eight-goal second period, with Carolina skating to a 4-2 lead before Tampa Bay scored three times in five minutes to take a lead heading to the locker room. Nikita Kucherov added an insurance marker early in the third, his league-leading 17th point this postseason.
Tampa Bay Firing on All Cylinders
Tampa Bay scored three more power-play goals in the contest, which now runs its success rate to an absolutely ludicrous 41.2% over a 10-game sample size in this year’s postseason. The unit offers such a variety of options and is nearly impossible to take everything away when the Bolts get fully set up in the zone.
With Steven Stamkos, and Nikita Kucherov both offering deadly one-timers from the half walls, Brayden Point very capable of finishing looks towards the middle in his bumper position, Victor Hedman quarterbacking at the top and a great net front/release guy in Alex Killorn, the Lightning power play holds an embarrassment of riches.
The Lightning are tremendous in finding seam passes and opening up the defence, forcing the opposing goaltender into very tough saves after the opposition overcommit in respecting the original one-time look — Kucherov in particular, who has already set up a number of easy finishes for his teammates in this postseason.
So far, Tampa Bay has managed to see five different opposition goaltenders this postseason. I think the Panthers’ goalies found out first-hand that the type of chances this Bolts group can generate right now are not exactly on par with your standard shots around the league. Is it more likely that all these goalies had poor outings or that the Lightning’s puck movement can lead to some curved numbers for some quality goaltenders?
Tampa will head into Game 5 with no listed injuries, skating at full strength with their $100 million-plus roster as it looks to close out a very deep and talented Carolina group in what will be a very loud and raucous PNC Arena.
Expected goals (also known as xG) is a predictive statistic that gives an indication of whether results are based on sustainable factors like a steady creation of scoring chances, or whether it is down to aspects such as shooting luck or outstanding goaltending.
Simply put, an expected goals rate (xGF%) above 50% is considered good because it means a team is creating the majority of the scoring chances. Anything below 50% is usually a sign that a team is struggling to control play.
Carolina Trying to Keep Up With Tampa Bay
The series has been pleasant to watch because Carolina has not shied away one bit from Tampa Bay and stuck with its high-tempo, high-event style of hockey.
The Canes will undoubtedly come out flying at home with their season on the line. Even down a number of key forwards, I am sure they will make life difficult for the Bolts. My guess is that we see Alex Nedeljkovic reclaim the starting role between the pipes for the do-or-die game, rightfully so as he has been mainly great so far in this postseason.
So far in the series, the Hurricanes trail on expected goals for (xGF) 6.75-6.9. A very close number, but Carolina has regularly underachieved the mark in terms of actual goals scored vs expected with this current core and during Rod Brind’Amour’s tenure as head coach.
If the overall play is going to be about even between these two teams in terms of chances, I think it could be a replicable result to see something like Saturday’s contest, during which the gameplay was close yet Tampa managed to convert more with their lethal scoring ability and world-class goaltender.
Specifically with two of their better scorers in Nino Niederreiter and Vincent Trocheck out, who have served as very notable losses for the Hurricanes. However, one or both may return for the massive do-or-die tilt Tuesday, with both game-time decisions.
Warren Foegele also remains out, a quietly painful loss for Carolina because of how much energy he brings and difficult he is to play against.
Betting Analysis & Pick
Carolina has shown a ton of heart in this postseason and certainly the ability to take the play to Tampa Bay in this series for periods of time at even strength. The problem is that with Andrei Vasilevskiy in Tampa Bay’s goal, and the elite scoring ability from the Bolts this has still led to a 3-1 hole.
In the regular season, one of Carolina’s biggest strengths was special teams, with their combined mark of 110.8% (PK% + PP%) good for first in the league. Yet in this series, the Canes are losing the special teams battle 6-2 in combined goals scored. Tampa Bay’s much improved playoff power play comes with obvious causation in the returns of Kucherov and Stamkos, and I just think it is going to be very hard to slow the unit down.
Carolina will come out flying here, and it’s very possible they control more of the play at even strength. However I just think that between Vasilevskiy, Tampa’s absurd power play, and lethal top unit there is enough reason to think they can wrap up this series up at the first possible chance.
Pick: Lightning -120