Flyers vs. Lightning Odds
|Lightning Odds||-140 [BET NOW]|
|Flyers Odds||+120 [BET NOW]|
|Over/Under||5.5 [BET NOW]|
|Time||8 p.m. ET|
The NHL’s round-robin games have sort of flown under the radar during the league’s return-to-play tournament. Not as much attention has been paid to the seeding contest compared to the Qualifying Round and people have questioned the importance of the games, and the level of urgency of the eight teams participating.
The third round of these round-robin games seems to be generating much more interest than its previous counterparts, mostly because the match-ups of Round 1 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs are starting to take form.
Previously, the teams weren’t aware what teams from the Qualifying Round would advance and what seed would correlate with which matchup. Now that teams have punched their ticket into the next round, the tournament is taking shape.
Teams know who their opponent will be based on whether they win or lose their last round-robin game.
For the Philadelphia Flyers and Tampa Bay Lightning, it’s simple. The winner of this game will be the Eastern Conference’s No. 1 seed. They will play the Montreal Canadiens in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs and the tournament’s lowest seed from that point forward since the bracket will re-seed after each round.
The loser will be the No. 2 seed and face-off against the winner of the Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Columbus Blue Jackets series.
When the NHL season was paused in mid-March, no team was hotter than the Philadelphia Flyers. The Flyers recorded points in 17 of their final 21 games beginning in mid-January. It appears they’ve picked up where they left off, out-scoring the Boston Bruins and Washington Capitals by a combined score of 7-2.
In the Flyers’ last game, they controlled play against the Capitals. When adjusted for score-effects, Philadelphia had 58% of the expected goals and 61.3% of the high danger scoring chances, according to Natural Stat Trick.
High-Danger Scoring Chances (HDSC) is a stat tracked by Natural Stat Trick. It’s pretty self-explanatory. A scoring chance that meets certain criteria goes down as a HDSC.
The Flyers offense was powered by their second line of Kevin Hayes, Scott Laughton and Travis Konecny. Laughton scored two goals while Hayes added three assists. Despite being all over the box score, the trio was actually
Philadelphia’s worst line in terms of puck possession. In the 8:58 of 5-vs-5 ice-time they had together, they only managed 37.50% of shot attempts.
The Flyers top-line of Claude Giroux, Sean Couturier and Jakub Voracek has yet to find the scoreboard through two games. They had a dominant first game in terms of puck possession, but against Washington they struggled to play with the puck.
Unfortunately for Philadelphia, Voracek will not be in the line-up on Saturday and Joel Farabee will move up and play in his spot.
Both James van Riemsdyk and Shayne Gostisbehere will be in the lineup for Philadelphia. Van Riemsdyk was a surprise scratch against the Capitals after scoring 19 goals and 40 points during the pandemic-shortened season. He’ll re-enter the lineup on the third line.
Gostisbehere on the other hand is no longer an everyday player for the Flyers. The offensive-minded defenseman is just two seasons removed from a 65 point season which is an elite level for an NHL blueliner. He is a liability defensively but will certainly help their power play.
Carter Hart will start in net for the Flyers. Hart established himself as an elite goalie in this league. Hart posted a 7.25 goals-saved-above-expectation number this season, fourth-best amongst goalies with over 40 games played.
Brian Elliott started in net for the Flyers in their last game, facing only 17 shots and stopping all but one of them. That being said, there is no goalie controversy here; this is Hart’s crease.
Tampa Bay Lightning
Tampa Bay needed a late goal from Tyler Johnson with 1:27 remaining in regulation to get past the Boston Bruins on Wednesday. Despite the close score, there was nothing really close about this game.
Adjusting for score-effects, the Lightning had over 60% of shot attempts, 67.6% of the expected goals, and 70.9% of high danger chances. The expected goals in this game at 5on5 were 2.89 to 1.39 in favor of Tampa. Tampa Bay scored the most goals per game in the league this season.
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.
xG numbers cited from Evolving Hockey.
The biggest issue for the Lightning has been their ability to hold leads. In both of their games, Tampa came out quickly and staked themselves to a 2-0 lead.
In both instances, the opponent came back to tie the game forcing Tampa to win it late. On one hand, it shows a good mental fortitude to be able to regroup from blowing the lead and still end up winning the game. On the other hand, consistently giving up leads is playing with fire.
Steven Stamkos has yet to play a game for the Lightning in this postseason, and that will not change on Saturday. Stamkos has been ruled out indefinitely with no specific update due to the NHL’s injury/illness reporting policy.
Stamkos is a key part of this team and makes them an even more dangerous offense but they are more than capable of surviving without him.
Andrei Vasilevskiy has looked shaky at times, even if his numbers are fine. Three of the four goals he’s given up thus far have leaked through him. Vasilevskiy is going to start the game for the Lightning but coach Jon Cooper did not rule out using veteran backup Curtis McElhinney in the game.
McElhinney is a slightly below average goalie, so if he sees time, it’s a downgrade compared to Vasilevskiy.
Tampa Bay is likely the better team when you line these two teams up and compare them. However, at the current price of -141 at DraftKings, they are not worth a bet.
Philadelphia has been an underdog in both of their games thus far, and they’ve won both relatively convincingly.
Analyzing a team’s motivation level is a dangerous game as getting into intangibles and factors that can’t be quantified is irresponsible. However, when you hear the coach of Tampa Bay suggest that they might be willing to use their back-up goalie in order to get him some work, you question whether winning is a high priority for Tampa Bay.
On the other hand, the winner of this game will get a first round play-off series against Montreal, who was the 12th seed in the Eastern Conference and had the lowest point total of any team invited to this tournament. The loser will get the winner of the Toronto/Columbus series.
Montreal did just eliminate Pittsburgh, but there is a reason they finished in 12th place. I think both teams have motivation to win this game as a matchup against the Canadiens compared to the other two teams seems more favorable.
At +120, I would play the underdog who has looked like the best team in the conference thus far. Tampa Bay might be the better team overall, but the value is not there and the prospect of McElhinney getting minutes in this game isn’t appetizing. I would take Philadelphia at any price over +110.
The Pick: Philadelphia Flyers +110 or better