Dogs Ready to Bite the Books: Vegas at Tampa Bay

The Tampa Bay Lightning have been the class of the NHL this season with a league-high 80 points on a record of 39-11-2. They have a 15-point lead over Toronto in the Atlantic Division against a Maple Leafs’ team that is actually the second-favorite on the NHL futures board to win the Eastern Conference this season.

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Tampa Bay has been dominant at home with a record of 20-5 in 25 games heading into Tuesday’s home game against the Vegas Golden Knights. With everything in the Lightning’s favor coming into this inter-conference clash, the idea of going with Vegas as a likely heavy road underdog is still appealing to me.

Sometimes you have to look past the numbers that are right in front of you when it comes to breaking down a particular matchup. This often time calls for making a reach on an underdog that is ready to break through with an unlikely upset.

Top Underdog Bet- Take Golden Knights at Lightning

Tuesday night at Amalie Arena will be the second meeting this season between these two teams. The Lightning drew first blood in the two-game season series with a 3-2 victory on Oct. 26 as -115 road favorites. The total line for that game closed at 5.5 goals.

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The defending Western Conference Champions have been able to shrug off a slow start this season to move into third place in the Pacific Division standings with 62 points on an overall record of 29-21-4. They are 11 points off the pace set by the surprising Calgary Flames.

Coming off the recent NHL All-Star break, Vegas is already 0-2 on this three-team Atlantic Division road trip with a 3-1 loss to the Florida Panthers as a -145 favorites on the heels of last Friday’s 5-2 loss to Carolina as a slight -105 favorite. Those games were played on back-to-back nights after traveling to the East Coast.

Prior to that, the Golden Knights suffered back-to-back losses to Minnesota and Nashville at home. The four-game skid is the longest this season since they dropped three straight very early in the season. This is still a team that has done a respectable job scoring goals this season with 2.94 a game and an excellent job stopping teams from doing the same.

Behind the goaltending duo of Marc-Andrea Fleury backed up by Malcolm Subban, the Golden Knights are ranked fifth in the NHL in goals allowed with an overall goals-against average of 2.72. The defense is ranked second against the power play with a kill rate of 84.2 percent. The most important stat when it comes to pulling off an upset on Tuesday is Fleury still at the top of the list this season in total wins (27).

Tampa Bay’s stats speak for themselves as the highest scoring team in the NHL (3.87 goals) complementing a defensive that is seventh in the league in goals allowed (2.81). This is also the top power play team with a conversion rate of 29.4 percent to go along with a 84.0 kill rate on penalties.

Read my Dogs Ready to Bite the Books piece from last week if you dare by clicking here.

Current form remains strong coming off the break with back-to-back road wins against the New York Rangers (-155) and the New York Islanders (-145) as favorites over the weekend, but the Lightning did lose to Pittsburgh 4-2 last Wednesday as -115 road favorites. The team’s last loss at home was to Toronto on Jan. 17 in a 4-2 defeat as -145 favorites.

You could bet this game three ways. First, take the Lightning as strong home favorites. Second, even things out with a puck line play on Vegas +1.5. I am going with the third choice which is the moneyline bet on the Golden Knights as a high-value play. Mainly because I do not see this good of a team losing a fifth-straight game.

Article by Dave Schwab

Posted February 4th, 2019

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