The Avalanche fly into Tampa after defeating the Florida Panthers in Sunrise on Thursday. It was a 5-2 win for the Avs, as they were able to grab their 17th win this season. With the win, the Avs advanced to 17-7-4 and 2nd in the Western Conference. The Predators are currently a point ahead with 39 points. 38 points in the Eastern Conference would put the Avalanche in a tie with the Sabres, behind the Maple Leafs and Lightning in 1st with 45 points.
The Lightning lead the league backed by a hot start to 2018-19. We’ve seen it before with this group of Lightning players, though. All flash during the regular season, and then no substance during the playoffs. The emergence of Brayden Point on this team really changes things, though. No longer do Steven Stamkos and Tyler Johnson have to lead the charge every night. Along with Kucherov and Point, the Lightning are stacked with offensive talent. Kucherov has tallied 43 points and Point owns 38 points and we’re just a week into December. That’s not even mentioning Yanni Gourde who has come on this season in Tampa.
It’s all a moot point before we see how this all comes together for the Lightning in the playoffs, though. The Capitals emerged from the Eastern Conference last season and ultimately won it all. Without achieving that, it was a bust of a year for the Bolts. The same goes for this season. It’s Stanley Cup or bust for the Lightning this season.
With this hot start comes a lot of expectations down the road in Tampa. They enter tonight on a five-game winning streak and an 8-1 run. The Avalanche are a worthy opponent, though, so it’s going to be interesting to see how this one unfolds in Tampa. If there is any game to watch on Saturday, this has to be it. Head below for our free Avalanche vs. Lightning pick.
Colorado Avalanche vs. Tampa Bay Lightning Pick
It might come down to the goaltending situation for the Lightning this season. Louis Domingue has been holding up well as Andrei Vasilevskiy’s replacement, but they likely need a healthy Vasilevskiy for the playoffs. What if Domingue happens to suffer a long-term injury and Vasilevskiy doesn’t return to form from his broken foot? The Lightning can pile on the goals like nobody else can in the league.
In fact, they’re 1st in the league with 3.83 goals per game. That number gets turned up a bit to 4 goals per game when they are playing in Tampa. In their last ten games, they’ve scored an average of 4.2 goals per game. For what he is, Domingue has played well, but it’s a given that Vasilevskiy would be producing better numbers than a 3.07 GAA and 0.903 save percentage.
You don’t have to go down very far to find where the Avalanche stand offensively. They’re situated just behind the Lightning, with an average of 3.69 goals scored per game. They were tied with the Lightning for a brief moment, but the recent offensive surge by the Bolts has put them in the lead. Tampa have notched at least 4 goals in seven of their last nine outings.
The Avalanche actually get better when they’re playing away from Colorado, as they have recorded 3.89 goals per game on the road. In their previous ten outings, they’re a nudge behind Tampa with 4 goals per game, compared to 4.2 for the Lightning. Look for the OVER to hit with the two highest scoring teams in the NHL facing off in Tampa on Saturday.