No.6 New Jersey Devils vs. No.3 Florida Panthers
Money Line: New Jersey -125 Florida +105
Total Line: 5
The New Jersey Devils and the Florida Panthers will face-off against each other one last time this Thursday night with a trip to the Eastern Conference semifinals on the line. This Game 7 showdown at the BankAtlantic Center is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. (ET) and it will be broadcast nationally on CNBC.
New Jersey was able to force this final winner-take-all contest with a dramatic 3-2 overtime victory in Game 6 as a 160-home favorite. Travis Zajac scored the game-winner a little over five minutes in the first extra period to add to his team-high total of six points in this series. Ilya Kovalchuk and Zach Parise have also been productive with a combined five goals and four assists.
The Devils have outshot Florida 187-151 but each team has scored 15 goals. Goalie Martin Brodeur has been shaky at times but comes into Game 7 with a goals-against-average of 2.22 and a .911 save percentage.
Florida will need a huge effort from its top scorers; Kris Versteeg and Sean Bergenheim to have any chance to end its 16-year drought of a playoff series win. Each has three goals and two assists through six games, but has a whole, this team has really struggled to generate scoring chances, especially on Tuesday night when it was out-shot 42-16.
Jose Theodore remains questionable for Thursday night so if he cannot go look for Scott Clemmenson to once again be between the pipes for the Panthers. The former Devil has a 2.33 GAA and a save percentage of .920 in 180 minutes of ice time in this series.
The Devils are 2-6 in their last eight games as road favorites but 6-2 in their last eight games following a win. The total has stayed ‘under’ in four of their last seven games in the playoffs as favorites of -110 to -150.
The Panthers are 3-7 in their last 10 first-round playoff games. They are 19-49 in their last 68 games as underdogs at home and the total has stayed ‘under’ in 19 of their last 28 games as home underdogs.
Head-to-head, the home team is 4-1 in the last five meetings and the total has stayed ‘under’ in six of the last 13 games in Florida with five others ending as a ‘push’. New Jersey is 21-10-1 in the last 32 meetings in Florida.
The Devils currently have all the momentum with Tuesday’s win but unfortunately for New Jersey fans it will not be enough as it is the Panthers’ turn to use home ice to deliver a huge win to their home-town crowd.
Bet on the Panthers +105 to win – if you want to bet on the game you can check out these NHL betting sites and choose one that best fits your betting needs.
The Free NHL Pick: Florida 3 New Jersey 2.