Ice Hockey

Betting tips: Tampa Bay Lightning vs. St. Louis Blues 12/19

The Blues have only picked up wins after changing coaches. Heading to Tampa Bay, that is likely to change against red-hot Nikita Kucherov and the rest of Tampa’s big guns.

Waiting for better Tampa

Tampa Bay has had a ragged season so far. Their record of 14-13-5 is enough for 11th place in the Eastern Conference. The current pace is by no means enough for the playoffs. On the other hand, there is some distortion in the results of the first 32 games.

The main reason is the goalkeeper situation. Andrei Vasilevskiy, who normally plays anywhere north of 60 regular season games, has only played ten games since rehabilitating from back surgery. What’s more, Vasilevskiy has a modest .897 SV% percentage since returning to action. By all accounts, we have not seen the best this guy has to offer.

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Tampa’s goalie must perform better today than in the organization’s brightest years. Their depth simply isn’t anywhere near what it used to be just a few years ago. On the other hand, the Lightning continue to create crucial advantages with their top lines. Especially Nikita Kucherov can make the best of defensemen look silly. Kucherov has ripped the league apart with staggering 52 points in 31 games. 

New Blues chords

A new era began in St. Louis when the Blues fired Craig Berube, the head coach of the franchise’s only Stanley Cup run. Drew Bannister has taken over as interim head coach. Since the coaching change, the Blues have played two games and won both.

Firing Berube seems justified, even though St. Louis is fighting firmly for a playoff berth. The Blues are a bottom-quarter team in terms of expected goals and even one of the weakest 5v5 with a 45.95% share.

As for the lineup situation, the Blues have enjoyed much more favorable variance than average. Pavel Buchnevich’s early-season injury lasted a couple of games and is the only absence that has affected the team’s performance in the slightest. The rest of the core group has played every game, which is rare this far into the season. Still, the Blues have struggled to climb the standings, which simply speaks to the mediocrity of this roster.

Great value in Tampa Bay

Changing coaches brings a small boost, but the effect is short on average. It’s quite possible that we have already seen the best of St. Louis. I’m more optimistic about Tampa and I see a clear difference between the teams.

There is no need to discuss whether Vasilevskiy will play when the Bolts are out of playoff positions and there are no back-to-back games on schedule. The Lightning will play their number one goalie in this situation, unless illness or something else unexpected occurs on game day.

There is a 57% chance that the Lightning will walk away with a win in regular time. Unibet has -108 for the 3-way home win, and I really like those odds. Seven units for Kucherov to deliver another crazy game!

Tip: Tampa Bay Lightning in regulation @ -108
Units: 7/10

The match will start on 12/19/2023 at 7:00 PM EST.
The odds are from the time of publication of the article and are subject to change.

Esa Kostet
X: @konekostet

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Register and Bet $25 on any match (min odds +100). Win or lose, you’ll get $100 in bonus bets!

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