In a sport where energy dictates flow, Florida has an inherent advantage here given:(1) it’s their home opener, and (2) their opponent is coming off a grueling game last night. Philly fought back from a 2-0 deficit in Tampa, but they were badly outshot (38-24) and exhausted significant energy in the process.
Visiting teams struggled in the 2nd leg of back-to-backs (B2B) in Florida last season and for a good reason: Tampa is a physical, dominant group that wears you down; whereas Panthers are a fast-paced, opportunistic team that tends to pounce on weaker prey.
Philly’s backup goalie Felix Sandstrom is also expected to play tonight, and he’s 0-4 in 5 career starts. This, coupled with the energy boost associated with home openers, strongly support a pick on Panthers ML or puck line (i.e. -1.5 spread).
The Over was also 28-15-3 in Panthers home games last season, mostly driven by their high-powered offense. There’s been roster turnover since then, but they effectively replaced star power with star power by bringing in Matthew Tkachuk from Calgary.
That, plus the fact Florida’s best defenseman Aaron Ekblad was placed on LTIR this morning, make me comfortable backing these teams for 6+ combined goals tonight (1 below the listed total). In the end, Panthers should still reign supreme on their pure energy and talent advantage, and I structured my bet accordingly to win 1 unit.
The Pick: Panthers Win & Over 5.5 Goals (-105) via MGM