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NHL handicapper Jason Yamaguchi dives into Saturday's matchup between the Nashville Predators and the Tampa Bay Lightning.
ANALYSIS

Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Nashville Predators Prediction: Don't Overlook the Predators

Following a Friday that had just four NHL games on the schedule, Saturday brings us 12 matches to consider as we head into the final week of the regular season. Many of them are occurring in the middle of the day, but the one I want to focus on is an evening bout between two playoff teams. The Nashville Predators are paying a visit to Tampa Bay, a game that has implications for both teams regarding potential playoff seeding.

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Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Nashville Predators Prediction

The Tampa Bay Lightning (47-22-8) have lost six of their last 10 games, a minor slide that has left them six points behind the Maple Leafs for second-place in the Atlantic division. Outside of wins and losses, their play has left much to be desired—their expected goals results have taken a bit of a dive since the beginning of April. Their last outing was an 8-1 blowout win over the Leafs, though, so perhaps the Bolts are starting to turn the corner as the playoffs loom.

The Predators (44-28-5) have five wins in their last nine, but their underlying production has been even more encouraging. They have consistently out-chanced their opponents at even strength since early April, which demonstrates that they are playing better than their recent record might imply. Nashville's last game was an impressive, 3-2 shootout victory over the Calgary Flames, who have clinched first-place in the Pacific division.

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If both starters play, this game will feature two of the league's top goaltenders. Juuse Saros has had a fantastic year for the Predators, recording 23.8 goals saved above expected (fourth-best in the NHL) to go along with a .920 save percentage. For the Lightning, Andrei Vasilevskiy has logged yet another high-end campaign, sitting one spot above Saros on the GSAx rankings with 26.6. However, Vasilevskiy has started Tampa Bay's last two games; with a matchup on Sunday against league-leading Panthers looming, Tampa may opt to rest him in this spot ahead of that contest.

One concern for the Lightning is that star center Brayden Point may miss the game due to a lower-body injury that forced him to sit out against Toronto. Point has not produced eye-popping totals this season, but he still has 27 goals and 28 assists in 62 games. His absence would leave a hole in the middle of the lineup, one that would add more value to Nashville's side in terms of betting.

The line on this game is tilted too heavily towards Tampa Bay's side. Nashville has recently shown an ability to go toe-to-toe with the top teams, and that isn't reflected in the price here. Take the value and run—bet the Predators down to +135 on the moneyline.

Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Nashville Predators Pick

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Article Author

NHLNFLMLB

Jason Yamaguchi is an avid New York sports fan. He has a proven record of providing +EV bets by combining traditional handicapping tactics with advanced statistics. You can follow him on Twitter @TopMoneyPicks to view all of his bets, including NFL, NHL, and MLB picks.

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