Bettors must adjust handicap as Lightning will be forced to tweak lineup heading into Game 3

September 11, 2020 12:00 AM

Jon Cooper did not have an update on Brayden Point’s injury status, but the head coach of the Tampa Bay Lightning did acknowledge that his star forward might not be available for Game 3. The Bolts did not skate on Thursday and while the coaching staff may provide some kind of update on Friday, expect to wait until the teams take the ice for warmups before anything is made official. Point leads all active players with 23 points in 15 playoff games. Five of those points came in Game 1 versus the Islanders.

If Point can’t play, Anthony Cirelli will get bumped up from the second line position that he currently holds. Cooper stated that—other than being a lefty—Cirelli is very similar to Brayden Point on many levels. While that may seem like a wild statement, and it sort of is, Cirelli’s abilities will likely surprise a lot of people if he is indeed given a bigger role. With that being said, this is a player that sat third on the depth chart at his position heading into the season and only has 5 points in 15 games in the 2020 playoffs playing on the second line and getting very little power play time.

One thing we know for sure is that Lightning winger Alex Killorn will not play on Friday after he was handed a one-game suspension for a hit on Islanders forward Brock Nelson in Game 2 on Wednesday. Killorn, a top-six forward, has seven points in 15 games and typically flanks Point on the first power play unit. Assuming Point isn’t back, Cooper and the Lightning will have some big adjustments to make.

Bettors have adjustments to make as well, of course. In the first two games, the Lightning were designated as the home team and they carried an average price of about -160. Remove the juice and that translates to the Lightning having about a 60 percent chance that the Lightning win a given game. In Game 3, the Islanders are designated as the home team and head coach Barry Trotz will have last change. Despite this, the Lightning are still carrying an average price of about -155 while the Islanders sit at plus-135. This indicates that sharp bettors are waiting to enter the market until they get more clarity on Point’s status.

That’s good news for the market as a whole. If Point is good to go, there will likely be plenty of bettors who will see value in the Lightning at -155. However, for those of us that would prefer to bet the Islanders in this spot if the Lightning are without their best player, it’s imperative that the market remain somewhat untouched. By my estimation, the Lightning’s chances of winning have been reduced by about 1.5 percent as a result of losing Killorn to suspension which sees my projected price move from -155 to -146 (59.3 percent). Their chances of winning would drop an additional 3.25 percent if Point is deemed unfit to play which means a fair line for Game 3 would be closer to -127 (56 percent).

As things stand, the Islanders will be the value play assuming a bettor can grab them at a price of plus-135 (42.5 percent) or better. At that number, I believe a bettor would have an edge of approximately 1.5 percent. Shop around and you might even find an edge closer to 2.5 percent, as the Isles are listed as a plus-140 underdog at some shops.

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