Free Pick Breakdown, Odds & Prediction: Lighting vs. Devils (3/14/2023) - Taking Vegas

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Free Pick Breakdown, Odds & Prediction: Lighting vs. Devils (3/14/2023)

By TakingVegas Staff Writer
March 14, 2023
Photo by: NHL.com

Tampa Bay Lightning vs New Jersey Devils (3/14 @ 7:00 PM EST)

Puck Line: Devils -1.5 (+185)
Money Line: Lightning +115 / Devils -130
Total: 6.5

Overview and Betting Info

The Tampa Bay Lightning (39-22-6) will be heading north to take on the New Jersey Devils (44-16-6) on Tuesday night. These two teams have not met this season but will play three each other three times over the next week. Tampa is third in the Atlantic with     84 points while New Jersey is second in the Metropolitan division with 94 points.

Tampa is 28-39 against the puck line this season and have covered just 10 of their 32 road games. They have gone over the total 33 times, 12 of which came on the road.

New Jersey is 33-33 versus the puck line but have failed to cover 21 of their 33 home games. They have gone over the total 32 times, 16 of which came at home.

Tampa Bay Lightning

Tampa has been falling down the Eastern Conference standings after going 4-10 over their last 14 games. It’s even worse when you look at their four wins, which came against the Ducks, Red Wings, Flyers, and Blackhawks. They’ll need to snap out of it as they face a great Devils team three times this week. While their playoff spot is likely secure, a bad week versus the Devils could drop them closer to the tight wild card race. The Tampa offense has been good, ranking seventh in scoring (3.45 GF/G), third in assists (408), ninth in shots (2,160), and third in power play percentage (25.6%). The defense has become more of a problem, ranking fifteenth in goals allows (3.05 GA/G), fourteenth in shots (2,099), fourteenth in save percentage (90.9%), and fifteenth in penalty kill percentage (79.7%). The Lightning are 15-16-1 on the road this season.

The Lightning have been led by the play of Nikita Kucherov (26 G, 69 A), Brayden Point (43 G, 36 A), and Steven Stamkos (27 G, 39 A). Kucherov is having a fantastic March, with three goals and six assists through seven games. In fact, he has just two games without a point over the last two months. That run has him with the third in points (95) and second in assists in the NHL. His teammate Brayden Point is third in the NHL in goals and has six in his last seven games. He disappeared in their loss to the Jets on Sunday, so expect a bounce-back game. Stamkos had a fantastic start to the season, but he’s been cold over the last two months. He had just five points in February and has four so far in March. It’s no coincidence that Tampa’s record has tanked since this skid started. Tampa has reduced his ice time a bit this month, which may help the 33-year-old center bounce back.

The Lightning blueline is led by a top pairing of Victor Hedman (6 G, 37 A) and Nicklaus Perbix (4 G, 15 A). Hedman has dealt with some injuries this month but has still managed three points in five games. Perbix is having a solid rookie season and has been a defensive stalwart for Tampa. Always look out for Mikhail Sergachev from their second pairing, as the defenseman has 48 points (7 G, 41 A) as he has eight points in seven games this month.

Tampa have not had solid play from their goalies as of late. Starter Andrei Vasilevskiy (29-17-4, 2.70 GA/G, 91.4 SV%) is having an awful March, going 1-2-2 and allowing almost four goals per game while saving just 86.5% of shots. It’s one of the worst runs of his career, meaning we could see reserve Brian Elliott (10-5-2, 3.16 GA/G, 86.6%) in goal on Tuesday. He has also been struggling, by the Lightning may be inclined to start him and let Vasilevskiy take a breath and regroup. 

New Jersey Devils

The Devils come into Tuesday having won four of their last five games and are now tied with Carolina atop the Metro. Speaking of Carolina, the Devils delivered a 3-0 shutout against the Canes on Sunday. They are 21-5-4 since the New Year, with no back-to-back losses. New Jersey has been fantastic on offense, ranking fourth in goals (3.53 GF/G), ninth in assists (382), fourth in shots (2,274), and fourteenth in power play percentage (21.6%). The defense has been just as good, ranking fourth in goals (2.64 GA/G) and shots (1,829) allowed, ninth in save percentage (91.0%), and ninth in penalty kill percentage (82.0%). The Devils are 19-12-2 at home this season.

The Devils’ offensive attack has been led by Jack Hughes (37 G, 42 A), Nico Hischier (28 G, 33 A), and Jesper Bratt (27 G, 33 A). Hughes is tenth in goals and thirteenth in points in the NHL. The young center is coming off one of his best games with a goal and two assists against the Canes. He dominated the Lightning last season with two goals and one assist. Hischier has also been playing well, with two assists and a game-winning goal in his previous three games. Bratt had just one point in March coming into Sunday but broke out of the slump by scoring twice against the Canes. Keep an eye on Dawn Mercrer as well as the top-line forward has ten points in March, with three goals and assists.

The New Jersey blueline is led by a top pairing of Dougie Hamilton (18 G, 45 A) and Jonas Siegenthaler ( 3 G, 15 A). Hamilton is second in points on the team and is third among all defensemen. He has six points in his seven March games and is on pace for another month with a double-digit point total. Watch Damon Severson (5 G, 18 A), as he has five of his 23 points in March.

The Devils have had some issues with their goaltending in March thanks to slumping Vitek Vanecek (28-7-3, 2.48 GA/G, 91.0%), who is 3-1 in March despite allowing 13 goals. He has been splitting time with reserve Akira Schmid (8-4-1, 1.91 GA/G, 92.7%), who has been great by allowing 1.20 goals over his last five appearances. Vaneck did get the last start, but he bounced back with a shutout of the division-leading Canes. We’ll see who ends up in goal for the Devils on Tuesday.

Free Pick: Devils -1.5 

The Devils and Lightning are two teams playing on completely different levels. While the Lightning offense can be deadly, they haven’t shown much life of late. They are averaging just 2.7 goals per game over their last ten games, while they allow 3.7 during that span. In the previous five games Tampa has played against top ten offenses, they were outscored by two or more four times. It’s hardly a surprise when you look at the goalie play they’ve been getting, which is likely to remain a factor on Tuesday.

Add this to how New Jersey plays on both ends of the ice. Vanecek’s slump is concerning, but he returned to form on Sunday against Carolina. Plus, Schmid has been playing about as well as anyone. Now that the Devils have caught the Canes, we expect them to use that momentum to drive forward and earn the second seed in the East. That run will continue Tuesday as they pick apart a sinking Lightning team.

We’re giving up the points to take the Devils on Tuesday.

TODAY’S FREE PICK