Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Sunday on NBCSN has the Tampa Bay Lightning favored at home against the Washington Capitals. The Lightning were very tough at home during the regular season, going 29-12, while the Capitals were basically a .500 team on the road, going 21-20. Tampa took two of the three regular season meetings between the teams. Let’s look at the contest and NHL Playoff picks.
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The Lightning were listed as -180 favorites in Game 1 with the total listed at six. The odds should be similar for Game 2, with perhaps a slight adjustment toward Washington. The Capitals were not anything special in the regular season on the road but they played well in Pittsburgh in the last round.
Washington was a very good team to bet over the total on the road during the regular season, as they went over 25 times, under 15 times, with one push. They average 3.1 goals per game and give up 2.9 per contest.
Tampa was a good team to bet over at home in the regular season, as they went over 25 times and under just 16 teams. They average 3.5 goals per game and give up about 2.9 per contest.
The Lightning hold a lot of overall advantages against Washington, but one area of concern is their penalty killing. The Lightning were just 27th in the league on the penalty kill in the regular season. Tampa has given up eight goals on 31 power plays in the playoffs. “We make every power play look like they’re the best power play in the league,” head coach Jon Cooper said to the Tampa Bay Times. Tampa has allowed the fourth-most scoring chances per 60 minutes on the penalty kill in the playoffs. Washington was 7th in the league on the power play in the regular season and they are 13 of 42 in the playoffs for 31%. The Lightning simply have to be better on the penalty kill if they hope to do well in this series and eventually win the Stanley Cup. Only one team since 2006 has won the Stanley Cup with a penalty kill rate of less than 80% in the playoffs.
The Capitals simply don’t have the defense that Tampa Bay has. The Capitals have a very good number one defenseman in John Carlson, but Tampa has a very good number one in Victor Hedman and there is virtually no drop off behind him with Ryan McDonagh, Anton Stralman, Mikhail Sergachev and Dan Girardi. The Capitals simply don’t have that depth, as behind Carlson is Matt Niskanen, Dmitry Orlov and Michal Kempny. If the Capitals are to have a chance in this series they need their secondary defensemen to play well.
The teams have split their last six meetings in Tampa, with four of the six going over the total. The teams have combined for at least six goals in eight of their last ten games in Tampa.
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Tampa is the better team and they have been very good at home this season. The price is high, but they should win Game 2. There is also some good value on the total, as both of these teams can score. The trends also support a high scoring contest, as each team went over the total in this situation, as the Capitals went over the total on the road on in the regular season, while the Lightning went over the total at home. I expect this to be a high scoring series and I will go over the total in Game 2 on Sunday.
NHL Odds: Lightning 5, Capitals 3
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