With 9 pro hockey games on Thursday, bettors have a great slate of matchups to wager on. Anthony Elio has an NHL best bet as the Tampa Bay Lightning face off against the Chicago Blackhawks.
Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Chicago Blackhawks
The Tampa Bay Lightning desperately need Andrei Vasilevsky back. The goalie that led the team to two Stanley Cup championships returned to practice this week, but likely won’t be fully back until later this month. Tonight, it’s looking like Jonas Johansson will be in the crease for Tampa, and that’s not good news for the team. After an admirable start to the season, Johansson’s numbers have cratered, as he hasn’t allowed fewer than 4 goals in a game since October 26th. In the 6 games since then, he is averaging 4.5 goals per matchup and hasn’t posted a save percentage over .900 since the start of November. The Lightning are also 6th in shots allowed right now with 32.94 per game, so the defense hasn’t been giving him a lot of help. The offense will have to step up in this matchup, and there’s plenty of firepower on the team. The top line of Brayden Point, Brandon Hagel, and Nikita Kucherov has accounted for 24 goals, which is 3 more goals than the San Jose Sharks have scored as a team this season.
And the Chicago Blackhawks have been heating up offensively as well. In their past 4 games, the Blackhawks are averaging 3.75 goals per game as much-hyped rookie Connor Bedard has stepped up his game. The top pick in the NHL Draft has recorded 2 goals in 2 straight games, and now leads the team with 9 goals and 13 points. Similar to Tampa’s situation, the Chicago offense needs to stay sharp to make up for a defense that’s giving up 3.46 goals and 34.85 shots per game. Goalie Petr Mrazek has actually put together a decent season, with a .921 SV% and 2.84 GAA. However, it’s important to note that Mrazek only has only allowed fewer than 3 goals in 2 of his 7 starts this season. In the past 6 games, Chicago is 5-1 to the over while Tampa is 4-2 to the over, and I’m banking on plenty of scoring tonight at United Center. It’s a high total, but I feel safe taking the over in what should be a fun interconference showdown.
Best Bet: Over 6.5
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