The Columbus Blue Jackets and Tampa Bay Lightning are set to clash at Amalie Arena on Tuesday night. The Lightning are back home following a couple of tough results on the road against the Dallas Stars and Carolina Hurricanes. Different games, same result, as the Lightning were downed by a score of 4-3 in both contests. Andrei Vasilevskiy was bombarded with 41 shots against the Stars, conceding 4 goals for a 0.902 save percentage. The defence did little to provide much help for Vasilevskiy in that outing.
Vasilevskiy got the call against the Hurricanes as well, and it was the exact same story. The Hurricanes put 40 shots on net and found the back of the net for 4 goals. Vasilevskiy posted a 0.90 save percentage in that performance. The Lightning head back home to Amalie Arena for a much needed reset at home. They head into Tuesday night with a record of 24-8-2 and a slim one-point lead over the Hurricanes for the top spot in the Central Division. A lot of people expected regression for the Lightning this season after winning the Stanley Cup, but they look as just as much of a threat.
The Lightning peaked at the perfect time and deserved their Cup. They had a fairly big monkey on their back weighing them in the playoffs in the Steven Stamkos era. The Lightning were able to finally break through after avoiding wearing themselves out in the regular season. If you recall, in the previous season the Lightning were swept by this Columbus Blue Jackets squad in an epic upset. Sweeping the Lightning was one of the most improbable outcomes of the sporting world that year. The Lightning learnt from their mistakes and didn’t allow it to happen again.
They are regarded as one of the favorites to win the Stanley Cup in the 2021 campaign, though I think I’d want some better value on the Bolts. The Lightning welcome a 13-15-8 Blue Jackets team to Tampa for a two-game series. Columbus is on a four-game losing streak going into Florida this evening. They’re coming off a brutal series in Detroit on Saturday and Sunday with two losses, 3-1 and 4-1. That was after 3-0 and 4-3 losses against the Hurricanes. Head below for our free Blue Jackets vs. Lightning pick on March 30, 2021.
Columbus Blue Jackets vs. Tampa Bay Lightning NHL Betting Odds:
Blue Jackets vs. Lightning Prediction:
Combined between the Blue Jackets and Lightning, they are on a six-game losing streak going into Tuesday night. Something has to give in this one. The Blue Jackets remain on the road after dropping two at Little Caesars Arena against the Detroit Red Wings. They’ll stay in Florida after this trip to Tampa for a two-game series against the Florida Panthers.
Did the Blue Jackets win the Patrik Laine trade? I would have to say with confidence, no, they did not. Having said that, their hand was forced by Pierre-Luc Dubois who wanted out of Columbus. Dubois is excelling for the Jets while Laine continues to be his inconsistent self. He hasn’t helped elevate the Blue Jackets’ offence in the least.
The Blue Jackets have netted an average of 2.47 goals per game this season. They’re 27th in the NHL and 26th in shots with only 28.4 recorded per game. Laine has contributed with 9 goals and 8 assists with a shabby +/- of -12. The playmaker that he was expected to be, and looked like he was going to be early in his career, hasn’t really developed. This is still only a 22-year-old, though. It feels like Laine is already 26 or 27, but I don’t know how much upside there is for him.
Joonas Korpisalo has been on the shelf with an injury, and is listed as questionable to play with a lower-body injury. The injury provides Elvis Merzlikins with another opportunity as the starting netminder. Merzlikins took over last year after a Korpisalo injury, so he has experience as a full-time starter. He owns a 2.86 GAA and 0.913 save percentage, down from a 2.35 GAA and 0.923 save percentage through 33 appearances last year. The Jackets are 23rd in the NHL with 3.2 goals against per game.
The offence for the Blue Jackets has been non-existent on the road. If their effort in Detroit was any indicator. They’ve recorded only 2 goals per game as a visiting team. This should be a nice bounce-back opportunity for the defence, which got grilled in their last two outings on the road. The Lightning own the second-best defence in the NHL, with 2.4 goals conceded per game.
In Tampa, where the Lightning are 13-2-0 on the season, they’ve allowed just 2 goals per game and scored 4.13 goals per contest. Overall, the Lightning are first in the NHL with 3.6 goals per game. Their power-play has been deadly with a success rate of 27.7%. After a sloppy couple of games on the road for the Lightning, expect them to return home with a sense of motivation against a regressing Blue Jackets squad. I like the Lightning in a 4-1 or 4-2 final score.