Lightning heavy home favorites vs. Flyers on Thursday

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The Tampa Bay Lightning should not need any reminder about avoiding a holiday hangover against a struggling Philadelphia Flyers team.

The Lightning, who are first overall in the league, are -225 favorites on the NHL odds for Thursday night against the +180 underdog Flyers with a 6.5-goal total at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

Tampa Bay is 8-2 in its last 10 home games against Philadelphia, but one of the defeats was at about the same point last season, December 29, 2017. However, the divisional trends mesh with the general power imbalance in the Eastern Conference: Tampa Bay is 8-0 in its last eight regular-season home games against Metropolitan Division teams, whereas the Flyers are 2-7 in their last nine away games against Atlantic Division foes.

The Flyers, who are 15-16-4 this season, have underdog value in certain road matchups, given that they are 8-8-2 in away games and have shown a noticeable energy burst after installing Scott Gordon behind the bench as head coach in mid-December. However, Philadelphia is travelling on the day of the game due to NHL policy and is 0-4 in its last four away games as a moneyline underdog of +165 or more.

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Gordon’s line adjustments that have have stars Sean Couturier and Claude Giroux centering the top two lines has paid off, but the Flyers, whose power play (29th) and penalty killing (27th) units are each near the bottom of the NHL rankings, would really need to have everything break right. In goal, Philadelphia may call on 20-year-old rookie goalie Carter Hart, who has a 2.36 goals-against average and .904 save percentage in his first three NHL starts.

The Lightning, who are 28-7-2 this season and 15-4 on home ice, will be playing their first home game in two weeks after finishing the pre-Christmas schedule with a four-game trip through Western Canada where they earned seven of eight available points. A first game back at home often involves a re-adjustment period, but the Lightning are 4-0 at home this season when their previous game was on the road.

Tampa Bay leads the NHL in goals, largely on the margin of their well-balanced firepower; while the Steven Stamkos-centered first line faces opponents’ top lines and defense pairs, units led by Brayden Point, Anthony Cirelli and Cedric Paquette are among the NHL’s very best second, third and fourth lines. Tampa Bay also has the No. 1-ranked power play.

Tampa Bay’s No. 1 goalie, Andrei Vasilevskiy, has a 3-0-1 record, 2.70 goals-against average and .930 save percentage in four starts this month.

The total has gone OVER in four of the Flyers’ last six road games against Atlantic Division teams, according to the OddsShark NHL Database. The total has gone OVER in six of the Lightning’s last eight home games against the Flyers. The total has gone OVER in 11 of the Lightning’s last 13 home games against Metropolitan teams, with one push.

For more odds information, betting picks and a breakdown of this week’s top sports betting news check out the OddsShark podcast with Jon Campbell and Andrew Avery. Subscribe on iTunes or Spotify or listen to it at OddsShark.libsyn.com.

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