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The Florida Panthers have lost three of their last five games.
The Tampa Bay Lightning are 2-2-1 in their previous five games.
The Lightning are 2-0-0 against the Panthers this season.
Odds Taken from FanDuel Sportsbook.
Tampa Bay Lightning
29-26-6 (5th in Atlantic Division)
37-18-4 (3rd in Atlantic Division)
Matthew Tkachuk (78)
Nikita Kucherov (85)
Carter Verhaeghe (31)
Brayden Point (36)
Matthew Tkachuk (50)
Nikita Kucherov (62)
Eetu Luostarinen (16)
Nick Petrix (15)
Matthew Tkachuk (3.95)
Shots (Per Game)
Nikita Kucherov (3.32)
The Panthers will make travel to Tampa Bay for the battle of Florida. These teams have faced each other twice this season, and the Lightning won both games by scores of 3-2 and 4-1, respectively.
The Panthers had an incredible regular season last year but have struggled this year. They are in fifth place in the Atlantic Division and three points out of the Wild Card race with 64 points. They must start winning now to give themselves a chance. Conversely, the Lightning are having a solid season and are in third place in the Atlantic Division with 78 points. They are comfortable in third but only four points out of second.
The Panthers are not a well-rounded team. They have a few scorers and average 3.41 goals per game. However, they do not have many strong defensemen and could use some upgrades in the net. Florida allows nearly 3.5 goals per game. This is not one player’s fault. Instead, it happens because the Panthers have two mediocre goaltenders and only two solid defensemen.
The Panthers are led by Matthew Tkachuk, Carter Verharghe, Aleksander Barkov, Brandon Montour, and Sam Reinhart. I could have named a few other players, but these five are the most productive players on the Panthers. They all have at least 45 assists and are talented passers.
Sergei Bobrovsky and Spencer Knight make up the Panthers’ goaltending duo. Bobrovsky is the starter, but both goaltenders have similar numbers. They each have save percentages just above .900 and allow over 3.1 goals per game.
The Lightning are much more well-rounded than the Panthers. Tampa scores over 3.5 goals per game and allow less than three goals per game. This is because the Lightning have six goal-scorers and a defense led by veteran Victor Hedman. In addition, the Lightning also have one of the most reliable goaltenders in the NHL in Andrei Vasilevskiy. Do not be surprised if the Lightning win another Stanley Cup this year.
The Lightning are seeing impressive seasons from Nikita Kucherov, Brayden Point, and Steven Stamkos. Each player has at least 61 points, 23 goals, and 33 assists.
Andrei Vasilevskiy has been a brick wall in the net this year. The All-Star has 28 wins (second-most in the NHL) and his .919 save percentage is in the top ten.
The Lightning are significantly stronger than the Panthers, have past success against them, and home-ice advantage. Tampa rarely loses when they play at the Amalie Arena and is coming into this game with a 22-4-2 record in Tampa. Bet on the Lightning.
The Panthers are underdogs but will only have a chance if they score first and play tough defense.
The Panthers only scored one goal in their previous game against the Buffalo Sabres. This was a surprising offensive showing from a team with a few scorers. They must return to form and can do so by scoring the first goal in this game.
The Panthers are not known for their defense but must bring their defensive A-game to this matchup. Tampa Bay has plenty of scorers, so the Panthers' defensemen must step up and exceed expectations. If they can slow down the Lightning’s shooters, they will have a chance.
The Lightning are the favorites but can improve their chances if they score a power play goal and pass to Brayden Point.
Much of the Lightning’s scoring this season has come on the power play. Tampa has the NHL’s second-best unit and converts nearly 26% of their opportunities. Nearly ¼ of the Lightning’s total goals come on the power play, so this unit must get on the ice as much as possible. They will score if they get on the ice three or four times.
The Lightning are full of scorers, and Brayden Point leads the pack with 36 goals. He scores on over 20% of his shots but will only have scoring opportunities if his teammates pass to him.
This is the obvious choice. Matthew Tkachuk is the most productive player on the Panthers and is averaging over 1.3 points per game. However, he failed to secure a point in the Panthers’ previous game.
Tkachuk must run the Panthers’ offense when he is on the ice this game and finish with at least one point.
Nikita Kucherov is having an incredible season. The winger has 85 points (23 goals, 62 assists) in 59 games and is coming off a one-goal, one-assist game against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Kucherov does not need to change his playing style heading into this game. He just needs to play to his level and set up his teammates with scoring opportunities.
What - Florida Panthers vs Tampa Bay Lightning
Where - Amalie Arena, Tampa, Florida
When - Tuesday, February 28, 7:00 PM EST
How to Watch - NHLPP, ESPN+
Max Heering graduated from the University of Kansas Sport Management program in May 2020. Max follows and writes about the NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL, MLS, college football, and college basketball. In his free time, you can catch Max draining threes on the basketball court. Email: [email protected]More info on Max Heering
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