Two surefire playoff teams are ready to face off Thursday night in the Sunshine State, as the Tampa Bay Lightning (43-21-6) are set to host the Philadelphia Flyers (41-21-7). This game will come a little less than a month after the Lightning won 5-3, yet again at home in Tampa. Let’s see how the NHL odds will be for the Flyers vs Lightning.
Flyers vs Lightning 2020 NHL Game Preview & Betting Odds
Here is a preview for Thursday’s big game, along with a free pick.
By the Numbers
Starting with the Flyers, the league’s hottest team saw their nine-game win streak get snapped on Tuesday in a 2-0 loss to the Bruins. Still, they retain control of second place in the Metropolitan Division, trailing the Capitals by just one point.
For the year, Philadelphia is averaging 3.29 goals per game, the seventh-most in hockey. They’re middle of the pack with 31.4 shots on goal, but carry the sixth-best shooting percentage at 10.5. They also rank 14th with a 20.7 power play percentage.
Defensively, the Flyers sit seventh with 2.77 goals allowed per game, while also allowing the league’s fewest shots at 28.7. Their penalty kill also sits just outside the top-10 with an 81.9 percent success rate.
It’s been a tough stretch for the Lightning, who have won just three of their last 10 games overall. After falling 2-1 on Tuesday to the Maple Leafs, the Lightning sit eight points behind Boston for the division lead, although they hold a sizable lead for second place.
No one in hockey is averaging more goals per game than Tampa Bay’s 3.47. While they’re only 19th with 31.1 shots on goal, they also have the league’s top shooting percentage of 11.2. Their power play percentage is also a very strong 23.2, which ranks sixth in the NHL.
On the other side, the Lightning are allowing an average of 2.77 goals per game, which is the seventh-best mark in the league. They also are allowing 30.9 shots on goal and have a penalty kill percentage of 81.4, which rank 12th and 13th respectively.
Who to Watch
Philly’s captain Claude Giroux has played a huge role in the team’s recent success. Giroux has put together eight goals and 10 assists over his last 15 games, giving him 21 tallies and 32 helpers for the year. Another playmaker has been Jakub Voracek. Voracek is up to 44 assists after recently racking up 10 assists during a five-game point streak. Finally, watch out for defenseman Ivan Provorov. Provorov is one of the better point-producers from the blue line, with a recent four game point streak giving him 13 goals and 23 assists.
For Tampa Bay, many eyes will be on the reigning MVP Nikita Kucherov. After a whopping 19-game, 30-point streak, Kucherov has started up a new four-game streak with two goals and three assists. The right wing now has 33 goals and 52 assists total on the year. Brayden Point is also someone to monitor for the Bolts. The center snapped a mini-goal drought with a pair of scores on Sunday, giving him 25 on the year to go along with 39 helpers. Finally, with Victor Hedman nursing an injury, Mikhail Sergachev will play a more active role along the blue line. The young Russian has 10 goals and 24 assists in 70 games.
The Flyers will likely roll with Carter Hart in net. Hart is 24-13-3 with a 2.42 GAA and .914 save percentage.
The Lightning are expected to counter with Andrei Vasilevskiy. Vasilevskiy is 35-14-3 with a 2.56 GAA and .917 save percentage.
The Lightning are the likely favorites ahead of Thursday night’s matchup, thanks in part to a strong 22-10-2 record at home. Meanwhile, the Flyers have barely treaded water on the road, coming in at 16-15-3.
All that being said, I’m going with the upset. Philly has been playing some great hockey over the last few weeks, while Tampa Bay has been struggling. The status of Hedman will play a role for sure, but if he misses, I like the Flyers’ deep and physical team to pull off the upset and steal this game on the road.