Florida Panthers (0-0-0) at Tampa Bay Lightning (0-0-0)
|Date & Time||Saturday October 6, 2018, 7:00 PM (EDT)|
The Line: Tampa Bay Lightning -220 / Florida Panthers +160 --- Over/Under:
The Florida Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning meet Saturday in NHL action at the Amalie Arena.
The Florida Panthers have gone back-to-back years without a postseason berth and hope a second season under Bob Boughner will get this team back on track. The Panthers have a chance to be one of the more exciting offenses in the league, as Aleksander Barkov is a legit star in the making, and he has some help this season with Vincent Trocheck, Evgenii Dadonov and Mike Hoffman. The Panthers finished 14th last year with an average of 2.99 goals per game and should easily push for being a top-10 offense in the league this season. If the Panthers can squeeze one more productive season out of Roberto Luongo, who turns 40 years old in April, hockey may actually matter in South Florida for the first time in a long time. The Florida Panthers have won five of their last seven regular season openers.
The Tampa Bay Lightning have made at least the conference finals in three of the last four seasons and enter this year as a popular Stanley Cup pick yet again. The Lightning are probably the deepest and most explosive offense in the league, as Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos combined for 186 points last year and J.T. Miller had 18 points in 19 games when coming over from the New York Rangers. Throw in Tyler Johnson, Yanni Gourde and Brayden Point, and the Lightning are never out of games and will have games where they just pour it on with ease. Andrei Vasilevskiy has also proven to be one of the better goalies in the league, as he’s coming off a 92 percent save percentage and likely has another level he can get to considering he just turned 24 years old. There’s few flaws with the Lightning, making them one of the safer championship picks heading into the season. The Tampa Bay Lightning have won each of their last four regular season openers.
The Panthers are 6-2 in their last 8 Saturday games, 19-7 in their last 26 vs. Eastern Conference and 25-10 in their last 35 overall. The Lightning are 4-0 in their last 4 vs. Atlantic, 5-2 in their last 7 games following a win and 37-16 in their last 53 home games. The Panthers are 0-4 in the last 4 meetings in Tampa Bay, 1-4 in the last 5 meetings and the home team is 7-1 in the last 8 meetings.
This is a lot of juice to eat for a season opener, especially with the Florida Panthers having had success against the Tampa Bay Lightning, which includes winning five of the last 10 meetings. These games between the Lightning and Panthers have been close and three of the last eight games have seen overtime. The Panthers have the offensive firepower to hang with the Lightning and are a confident, young team that's likely eager to prove itself early against a big boy. If you're a fan of value, there's reason to consider the Panthers and the big plus money here.