The first half of the season is over with and the Tampa Bay Lightning have their eyes set towards the playoffs and the Stanley Cup. With their recent failings in the playoffs, I am not sure if anyone is going to take the Lightning seriously when that time of the year rolls around. With so many other teams in the NHL that are more proven in the playoffs can I really blame you if you think they’re going to disappear then? No most definitely not. However, this is a Lightning team that is loaded with talent and certainly has the potential to do some damage in the post-season. We’ve seen this story before, so we’ll see how it turns out in a few months. Currently they have one of the top records in the NHL with a mark of 31-15-0-4. When you have Stamkos on your team, a deep run in the playoffs is always possible, and when you have an offense that produces at a rate like the Lightning do then it is possible. The Columbus Blue Jackets can forget about any kind of playoff run at this point if they continue to play like they are playing. They would need a strong second half to their season to have a chance, but their chances are most definitely bleak in that regard. The Jackets have a tough task on their hands, as they travel to warmth and sun in Florida to face the Lightning.
The line on the Blues last night dropped like a rock. I took it at the opening price of -135 and it fell all the way to -116 before the line closed. I hope you all got the best price possible on that one. I do know, though, that we all cashed in and were counting the dollar bills with that pick. Even with their backup goalie in and a couple of players missing out of the lineup, the Blues still managed to successfully beat the Carolina Hurricanes. They were tied heading into overtime, but the Blues made sure they were coming out of Carolina with a win. They ultimately won the shootout behind backup Jake Allen. Another good win for the Blues, the Lightning will be looking to do the same tonight at home.
Columbus Blue Jackets @ Tampa Bay Lightning
The Lightning happen to be playing great hockey at their home. They come in against the Blue Jackets with a record of 20-4-0-1 playing in Tampa. They’ve also thoroughly dominated Columbus at home winning 5-1 of their last six meetings at home. The highlight of the Lightning is their offense. Led by Steven Stamkos, the Lightning are 1st in the NHL in scoring. Lightning fans thought the sky was going to fall down when Martin St. Louis departed Tampa, but the offense really hasn’t suffered at all, and has gotten even better statistically. They are current averaging 3.22 goals per game, which beats out the Islanders by .7. Tampa is pretty consistent. In their last ten games they’ve scored 3.20 goals a game and 2.60 goals against. They allow 2.56 goals per game, so you know what you’ll get with the Lightning for the most part.
The Blue Jackets used to have a fairly strong defense, but they have regressed severely in recent memory. Note that the Jackets are allowing 3.13 goals a game which ranks 26th in the NHL. That isn’t going to work favorably for them against the top scoring offense in the league tonight. Not only has the defense suffered, but their offense has gone in the wrong direction as well where they are 24th in that respect. After losing to the Panthers in their first game in Florida, I like the Lightning to add another loss to their resume by more than a goal.
Pick – LIGHTNING -1.5 (+135) 5dimes.eu (Best Odds)