Perhaps more than any other sport, the NHL playoffs may be the toughest to predict. Look back over the years and you will see that #1 seeds rarely win it all. You will also see that winning the President’s Trophy for the best record in the regular season means nothing once the postseason gets underway. You often hear pundits talk about a team being built for the playoffs, but that doesn’t mean that they are necessarily talking about the most skillful team. It takes mental and physical toughness to navigate an 82-game season and the Stanley Cup playoffs, so it is the strongest, as opposed to the most skillful, who generally survive and thrive. Last season, the Tampa Bay Lightning were far and away the best team in the regular season, but they ended up getting swept in the opening round. The St. Louis Blues were, at one point, the team with the worst record in the Western Conference, yet they went on to win it all. These two will hook up in a nationally televised game on Tuesday night. The Lightning are favored by 1 ½, with the goal total set at 6 ½.
When: Tuesday, November 19 at 8 PM EST
Where: Enterprise Center, St. Louis
NHL Odds: Get the Latest Odds at YouWager.lv
Why bet on the Tampa Bay Lightning
You look at the Tampa Bay Lightning sitting down in 6th place in the Atlantic Division and you see a team that is underwhelming. A closer look, though, reveals that they have played 3 to 5 games less than everyone else in the division. If they win those games in hand, they are right up there among the best teams in the Eastern Conference. The Lightning currently have 20 points from a 9-6-2 record, which includes posting a 5-4-1 record on the road in the early going of the season. The one thing that needs to be considered a little troubling heading into this one is that they are 0-2-1 versus teams from the Western Conference. With 64 goals in their 17 games, this is a team with undeniable firepower, although their 59 goals surrendered is an issue.
Why bet on the St. Louis Blues
The Blues may have struggled during the first half of the season last year, but that is certainly not the case this time around. They have jumped out to a fast start and are atop the Central Division with 29 points from a 12-4-5 record. They are in a little bit of a swoon at the moment, dropping 3 in a row, but they have picked up points in some of those defeats to go 7-1-3 in their last 10 games. This is a team that has been better on the road than at home, but their 5-3-2 record on home ice is still respectable enough. The Blues have had a lot of games versus teams from the Eastern Conference and are 4-3-3 in those outings.
Expert Pick and Final Score Prediction
The Lightning are in as a favorite for this one despite going just 1-6 SU in their last 7 visits to St. Louis. If you want to play it safe, take the Blues to cover, but I am going to also take them to win straight up.
Tampa Bay Lightning 2 St. Louis Blues 3