The Florida Panthers will continue their pursuit of a playoff spot when they host the New Jersey Devils at FLA Live Arena on Saturday night.
The Panthers have risen to No. 9 in the East after winning four of their last five overall, including a 9-5 thumping of the Montreal Canadiens when last seen on Thursday. The Devils are almost assured a playoff spot, but have dropped two straight to the Tampa Bay Lightning heading into this one.
Can Florida stay hot in this spot? Find out in our free NHL picks and predictions for Devils vs Panthers on Saturday, March 18.
Devils vs Panthers best odds
Devils vs Panthers picks and predictions
Bettors have a decision to wrestle with for this game, and it doesn’t involve backing the Devils. The Panthers should prevail on Saturday night, but the question is whether to support them to cross 3.5 total goals, or simply to win outright.
At the end of the day, I would diversify my wagers and bet both, with the team total paying at +117, and the moneyline wager paying at -107. The best bet by the narrowest of margins is the latter, and it’s really in case Florida scores “only” three goals, as I’m not expecting Sergei Bobrovsky to get lit up here.
The Panthers have scored four goals in seven of their last 11 games. They went 6-1 in that span when they scored at least four goals, and also picked up a 2-1 win over the Vegas Golden Knights in that stretch.
Any analysis of the Florida offense has to start with Matthew Tkachuk, who has the team lead in points over Carter Verhaeghe, 91-59. Tkachuk has an eye-popping three goals and seven assists in his last three games alone. He was a deserving first star in the 9-5 rout of Montreal on Thursday, when he notched a goal and three assists.
Meanwhile, Bobrovsky is expected to make his 12th straight start tonight. One might think he’s gassed based on his last two starts, but I’m willing to draw a line through both.
Bobrovsky gave up five goals on 27 shots to the Winnipeg Jets in the latter half of a back-to-back, then faced plenty of open looks in a 9-5 frenzy of a game against the Canadiens. But in his five games prior to this run, Bobrovsky turned back 123 of the 131 shots he saw (.939 SV%). His team went 4-1 SU in that span.
My best bet: Panthers moneyline (-107)
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Devils vs Panthers moneyline analysis
Building on my best bet analysis above, the Panthers have the offensive firepower to topple the Devils tonight.
Florida has shared the wealth on offense this month, with Tkachuk, Verhaeghe, Sam Reinhart, and Aaron Ekblad all tied for the team lead in goals with three apiece through six games. Aleksander Barkov has returned from a minor stint on the injury report to post a goal and seven assists over his last five affairs.
The Panthers are expected to shoot against Akira Schmid, whom they tagged for three goals on 28 shots when they last met on Dec. 17. The New Jersey third-stringer has been adequate against some strong offenses, allowing three goals apiece to the Golden Knights and Lightning in shootout losses, but doesn’t inspire confidence all the same.
Meanwhile, recent head-to-head results suggest Bobrovsky will hold up his end of the bargain. He’s faced the Devils twice this year and stopped 59 of their 64 shots while splitting the respective decisions in net.
The trends support Florida too, as the Panthers are 68-27 in their last 95 home games, and 20-8 in their last 28 after allowing five or more goals in their previous game. The Devils are 17-35 in their last 52 in the fourth game of a 4-in-6 situation.
Devils vs Panthers Over/Under analysis
The total feels like it could be a push at the prevailing number of 7. If I had to bet the total, I would shop around for a 6.5, even though the juice will likely be in the -135 to -140 range.
The Panthers’ magic number has been four lately, as that’s exactly the number of goals they scored in seven of their last 10 tilts prior to Thursday’s nine-goal outburst. The Devils, meanwhile, have scored precisely three goals in five of their last six overall, going 3-3 SU in that span.
Interestingly, both teams are averaging 3.5 goals per game on the year. Florida has been more reliant on its offense this season, the unit has been hot, and they have the benefit of home ice. The Devils’ snipers have cooled off, and that’s why Under bettors have cashed in four of their last five. However, the Over has hit in three straight games involving the Panthers.
The home/road splits suggest a fast-paced game with plenty of scoring chances. New Jersey averages more than two total shots per game on the road compared to their overall figure (64.9 to 62.4), while Florida averages more than two additional shots per game on their own (37 to 39.3).
Devils vs Panthers betting trend to know
The Over is 11-5-2 in the Panthers’ last 18 home games. Find more NHL betting trends for Devils vs Panthers.
Devils vs Panthers game info
|Location:||FLA Live Arena, Sunrise, FL|
|Date:||Saturday, March 18, 2023|
|Puck drop:||6:00 p.m. ET|
|TV:||MSGSN, Bally Sports Florida|