NHL Betting Lines: Will Carolina right the ship against Tampa Bay?

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·4 min read
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There's a pair of Game 3's on tap Thursday night between the New York Islanders and Boston Bruins, and the Tampa Bay Lightning and Carolina Hurricanes.

Let's get to the picks.

Boston Bruins (-140) at New York Islanders (+115) — Total: 5

For two teams who supposedly value tough defense, there wasn't much in the way of goal-stopping in the first two games of this series. Both Games 1 and 2 went over cleanly, and it's been the Bruins who have been firing on all cylinders on the offensive end. In fact, Bruins skaters have made the Islanders' normally impenetrable defense look ... well ... pretty regular. If not for some puck luck late in Game 2, the Bruins could be up 2-0 in this series.

They have been the better team.

Nonetheless, the series is tied 1-1, and now it moves to the Nassau Coliseum, where the Isles have held an overwhelming home-ice advantage (they went 23-5-3 at home during the regular season).

As I said, the Bruins have been the better team, but if these playoffs have shown us anything, sometimes the better teams lose (more on that in the next blurb). We saw that in Game 2, when the Bruins found themselves in an early hole, stormed back, and still lost as the Islanders completely took the game over late (and enjoyed some luck, thanks to some Boston mistakes).

That's the beauty of betting, after all. It's not just about taking the better, favored team. And while -140 seems like a good price for a Bruins team that's been excellent, I'll happy take the plus money on a team with a serious home-ice advantage. It helps that that team happens to be the Islanders, who should be able to shore up their normally elite defense this game after allowing eight total goals in the first two matchups. Boston, too, has to be thinking about how its fourth-ranked defense allowed the Islanders to score four goals on them at the TD Garden, including the eventual game-winner. With both teams expected to tighten up their play, I lean New York in that scenario.

Plus-115 sounds right for the Isles here, and it's worth the risk for a small bet with a plus-reward.

Pick: New York Islanders ML (+115)

Carolina Hurricanes (+135) at Tampa Bay Lightning (-160) — Total: 5.5

Will it finally happen?

Will a matchup between these two teams finally hit the over?

The under has cashed eight out of their last 10 head-to-head matchups (one was a push), including three straight.

How long will this trend last?

Carolina Hurricanes' Brett Pesce (22) and Tampa Bay Lightning's Steven Stamkos (91)
Even with stars on both sides, the goals have been few and far between in this series. (AP Photo/Karl B DeBlaker)

Respect must be given to the goaltenders. Andrei Vasilevskiy has been absolutely masterful so far, allowing just two goals and sending back shot after shot (and the Hurricanes have been shooting). His younger (by one year) counterpart, Alex Nedeljkovic, has been great too, albeit on the losing end of things.

And that's the kicker; the Hurricanes have been supremely unlucky so far this series, and now find themselves in trouble. They've been historically dominant this season at the PNC Arena, only to watch their offense go stagnant in back-to-back home games; the results (2-1 losses) have been almost identical. The Canes played very well in both matchups but just couldn't get much of anything past Vasilevskiy.

It's desperation time now for the Canes, who are down 0-2.

The Hurricanes' +135 odds on the money line reflect the narrative of the series thus far and its movement to the Amalie Arena in Florida. With that said though, it's possible that juice is a bit high, ignoring the fact that Carolina is still a very dangerous team. With a bit better luck, this series could easily be 1-1 — maybe even 2-0.

Alas, it's not, and as long as Vasilevskiy can keep this otherworldly play up, it'll be tough to bet against the Lightning. At +135, however, I won't argue with anyone who takes Carolina in this game.

That said, I just keep going back to that total. On Tuesday, I took the under in Game 2, and it cashed easily with a 2-1 final. I said that if that bet hit, I would be looking at the contrarian over play in Game 3, and here we are. 

As an agent of variance, I want to trust that Carolina's puck luck will finally change, that Vasilevskiy will finally show some flaws in the armor, and that we're in for the first shootout between these two teams since March 27. (And if this game somehow goes under again, you better believe I'll stubbornly — perhaps foolishly — look for the over in Game 4.)

*holds breath*

Pick: OVER 5.5 (+120)

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