The Tampa Bay Lightning (6-6-4, 16 points) head to the United Center to take on the Chicago Blackhawks (5-8-0, 10 points). Four nights ago, Chicago beat Tampa 5-3 as a -230 underdog but is still trying to find their consistency after failing to put together back-to-back wins in November (7 games). Over under betting might be the bettor’s best option here after Tampa opened as a -181 favorite with a total of 6.5 (over -125). Puck drop is scheduled for 8:07 p.m. ET / 5:07 p.m. PT and can be seen on ESPN+ and Hulu. We start our Lightning vs Blackhawks betting preview with a look at Tampa from a betting perspective.
Defensive End Is A Massive Issue
The Tampa Bay Lightning always seem to get off to a less-than-inspiring start because head coach Jon Cooper knows it’s about being ready for the NHL postseason. We’re not sure that this version of the Lightning can wait much longer before turning on the regular season juice. Scoring isn’t an issue with Tampa averaging 3.3 goals per game (6th in the league), it’s the effort on the other side of the ice that has given them problems, it’s their 3.69 goals against that has crushed them.
That doesn’t mean we’re blaming Jonas Johansson or Matt Tomkins, but the reality is, they’re a long way from Andrei Vasilevskiy getting back between the pipes after undergoing back surgery, although he did practice his week. To be fair the Tampa defensemen have been below average most of the season, allowing an average of 29.25 shots per game, 4th worst in the NHL. We continue our Lighting vs Blackhawks betting preview by turning our attention to Chicago.
You Would Think Chicago Was Undefeated
With as many Connor Bedard highlights we’ve seen this season, you would think that the Blackhawks 5-8 record is a typo. While the league continues to prop up its newest superstar, the Blackhawks are trying to find some wins. In their recent 4-3 loss to the Florida Panthers, the word sloppy was thrown around. It was apparent that if Chicago is going to improve on their dismal season of a year ago, they’ll be relying on Bedard to carry them there until GM Kyle Davidson goes out and gets some backup.
The key for Chicago is to not get behind early because it’s difficult to come back against a hockey team with the pedigree of the Lighting until this group can establish some maturity and that means learning how to hold leads and snatching a few victories from the jaws of defeat. No one is putting serious money on Chicago’s NHL stanley cup odds, but at least the path is a clearer plan than it was a few seasons ago. We conclude our Lightning vs Blackhawks betting preview with our official selection.
Solid Plus Money Opportunity
To us, you have to knock the champ out convincingly, yes, we know the Golden Knights are the Stanley Cup champions, but the Lightning have represented a winning culture for so long they can be considered a championship organization if that makes our friends in vegas feel better. Chicago has lost five straight games against teams playing under .400 hockey if you count the OTL as actual losses, which if they’re losses for the betting public, then they’re losses in my book too.
Tampa has won four straight games in Chicago and is 21-5 as the favorite in the series. Not only are we going to take the Lightning, but we’re going nuts and laying the puck line so we can cash in on that +125. We wish you all the best with your NHL picks and parlays tonight.