Hurricanes vs. Lightning NHL Pick – February 25, 2021

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It’s a rough feeling when you’re halfway through a game and fully know you need a miracle to win a bet. That’s more or less what occurred in last night’s pick when we had the Flames and Leafs Over 6.

With a weak goaltending matchup on tap combined with one of the league’s best offenses and power play teams in the Maple Leafs, it seemed as if the game had the makings of a high-scoring affair. Full marks to both David Rittich and Michael Hutchinson, however, as both netminders were very good, but it took more than 56 minutes for the game’s first goal to occur.

Calgary scored that goal, but William Nylander banged home a loose puck with the extra attacker on the ice before the Swede buried a nifty OT winner in a 2-1 Leafs win.

We fell well under the 6-goal total, however, in a pick that didn’t stand much of a chance given how the game played out.

We’ll look to bounce back with this Hurricanes vs. Lightning NHL pick in the second half of a back-to-back from Tampa Bay!

  • Season Record: 18-22
  • Units: -4.88

Hurricanes vs. Lightning Betting Odds

  • Hurricanes (+119)
  • Lightning (-131)
  • Hurricanes +1.5 (-190)
  • Lightning -1.5 (+165)
  • Over 6 (-116)
  • Under 6 (+105)

Hurricanes vs. Lightning NHL Pick Breakdown

Hurricanes

Offense

They were blanked by the Bolts in last night’s 3-0 loss, but this Hurricanes offense has been a productive group this season, getting contributions up and down the lineup in the process.

Carolina will enter this one tied for fifth with 3.39 goals per game on the season, but their power play has also been dynamite in the form of a 28.1% clip that ranks them seventh in the league.

If you track advanced metrics, you’d know the Hurricanes have been one of the very best teams in the league in that department over the last few seasons, and that’s no different this year.

According to Natural Stat Trick, the ‘Canes rank second in scoring chances for/60, first in high-danger chances for/60 and first in expected goals for/60 at 5v5 this season. Their 2.62 actual goals/60 at 5v5 is right in line with their 2.69 expected mark, so believe it or not this is indeed one of the best offenses in the NHL right now.

It’s certainly been an offense by committee. Three players — Sebastian Aho, Vincent Trocheck and Andrei Svechnikov — are tied for the team lead with 16 points, but there’s also eight Hurricanes players with at least 11 points in their 18 games on the season. This club gets offensive production up and down their top nine and it’s been giving the opposition fits, save for last night’s disappointing results.

Defense

Once their calling card, this Hurricanes defense hasn’t been quite as good as we’ve seen in year’s past.

Overall, they are in a three-way tie for 12th with 2.78 goals against per game on the season, but with just 0.02 goals per game separating No. 12 through 18, this has been a middle-of-the-pack defense so far this season. Additionally, the penalty kill hasn’t been especially great, ranking 17th at 78.7% this season.

The underlying metrics more or less agree with their defensive work so far. At 5v5, the Hurricanes rank 17th in scoring chances against/60, 21st in high-danger chances against/60 and 21st in expected goals against/60. Their expected goals for%  ranks second in the NHL, but that figure has much more to do with their offense than their defense at this point.

It’s a healthy group at the moment, one that has seen top defensive prospect Jake Bean get into the lineup on a permanent basis of late. The personnel is strong, but the results so far have probably been on the disappointing side of the ledger.

Goaltending

Petr Mrazek continues to nurse his broken thumb that required surgery, and there’s been a timeshare in the crease between James Reimer and Alex Nedeljkovic as a result. After Nedeljkovic took the loss in last night’s affair, it will be Reimer getting the starting nod in this one tonight.

It’s been a down season for the veteran. Reimer hasn’t been terrible, but he’s now allowed at least three goals in eight consecutive starts. He’s scuffled in the month of February, working to a 3.55 GAA and .889 Sv% across seven starts, but is 5-2-0 in that time thanks to some heavy offensive support.

Reimer’s last start came in a 4-2 loss to these Lightning in which he surrendered three goals on 31 shots (.903 Sv%) while the 32-year-old owns a career 3.15 GAA and .903 Sv% in his career against what has largely been a high-octane Bolts attack in his NHL tenure.

Lightning

Offense

Nikita Kucherov is out for the season, and despite missing one of the game’s best offensive players, this Lightning offense has not skipped a beat.

Tampa Bay will enter this one ranked second in the NHL with 3.59 goals per game on the season while their 26.8% clip on the power play pegs them at ninth in the NHL. We knew this offense was built to withstand a big blow as evidenced by winning the Stanley Cup in 2020 largely without the services of captain Steven Stamkos.

The underlying metrics support the cause. At 5v5, the Lightning rank eighth in scoring chances for/60, ninth in high-danger chances for/60 and fourth in expected goals for/60 on the campaign. Their 2.80 goals/60 at 5v5 this season sits well above their 2.39 expected mark, so like a lot of teams in the league, perhaps the Lightning will regress a little bit up front moving forward.

The team leader in points? None other than defenseman Victor Hedman who has notched 18 of them in 17 games, but like the Hurricanes, it’s a deep group. The club has seven players with at least 10 points in 17 games this season while solid contributions from the likes of Mathieu Joseph, Barclay Goodrow and Blake Coleman have certainly lengthened this lineup — to put it in baseball terms — this season.

Defense

The Tampa Bay Lightning have been among the best defensive teams this season, but there’s a notable discrepancy in their surface results and what we should consider under the hood.

Overall, the Bolts have been the second-best defense in the NHL as per their 2.24 goals against per game on the season while their 85.7% penalty kill puts them fifth. After bringing back last year’s core that finished well within the league’s top 10, the surface numbers aren’t surprising.

However, I’m willing to bet on regression, at least at even strength.

At 5v5, the lightning rank 24th in scoring chances against/60, 13th in high-danger chances against/60 and 18th in expected goals against/60. So, while they sit fourth with 1.81 goals against/60 at 5v5 this season, their 18th-ranked 2.19 expected mark suggest this group is performing above their heads at the moment. It helps to get elite goaltending, and more on that in a minute, but this doesn’t appear to be the second-best defense in the league if we’re to consider the advanced metrics.

Goaltending

Vasilevskiy remains one of the very best goaltenders in the NHL, but after earning last night’s shutout, he’ll get a rare breather with backup Curtis McElhinney stepping in for just his third outing of the season in the second of back-to-back affairs with Carolina.

Obviously, we’re dealing with a minuscule sample size, but the 37-year-old McElhinney was excellent in his first start of the season and atrocious in his most recent outing.

He turned aside 23 of 24 shots (.958 Sv%) in a win over the Nashville Predators in his season debut, but followed that up by yielding six goals on only 21 shots (.714 Sv%) in his most recent outing, a 6-4 loss to the Florida Panthers.

The journeyman has certainly carved out a nice career that now sits at 239 NHL appearances, but owns a so-so 2.83 GAA and .908 Sv% for his career. He tailed off last season as well, posting a similar 2.89 GAA and .906 Sv% in his 18 appearances.

At this point, it’s doubtful that the London, Ontario native is at the peak of his career and he’ll have to shake off the rust in a hurry against a quality offensive opponent tonight.

Hurricanes vs. Lightning NHL Pick

Carolina was certainly disappointed in being shut out in last night’s contest with Tampa, but man I believe in this offense, and that’s coming from a guy who certainly didn’t a year ago at this time.

Vincent Trocheck has been a key cog in taking this group to another level as he is looking like the 2017-18 version of himself and has appeared to put that gruesome leg injury suffered in the 2018-19 campaign behind him.

For me, the value here is on the road side.

There isn’t much criticism to throw at the defending Cup champions, but there is some defensive regression to be had. They’ve given up chances at a bottom-half level, but a third-ranked .936 Sv% at 5v5 — largely from Vasilevskiy — has prevented plenty of damage to this point in the season.

No, you can’t exactly hang your hat on Reimer in this one, but I do have more faith in him than I do in his counterpart McElhinney. No disrespect, but the latter just hasn’t played much at all and this isn’t a great matchup to begin with.

At the end of the day, give me the ‘Canes to avenge last night’s shutout loss and grab a win tonight as moneyline dogs.

The Bet
HURRICANES
+119
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Brenton Kemp / Author

Brenton is a lifelong sports fan who resides in Ontario, Canada. Brenton is a fan of most all sports but specializes in hockey, baseball, football, basketball, and golf. He’s a fierce researcher with a strong appetite to deliver accurate and relevant facts that in turn have led to past success with picks and DFS advice across the board. Brenton’s biggest goal is to deliver readers with the picks and advice that can build their bankroll. He takes great pride in his success and loves nothing more than to share that success for the benefit of everyone involved.