The NHL is set up with a smaller slate of games throughout Monday night. Five games will be up on the board throughout February 17. One of these matchups will be between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Colorado Avalanche. These two teams have had solid starts to the season and will look to earn a big two points on Monday night. This game will drop the puck at around 9:00 PM Eastern time on ESPN+.
Tampa Bay has earned a record of 38-15-5 throughout this season so far. The Lightning are currently in second place of the Atlantic Division. Tampa Bay is only three points behind the NHL leading Boston Bruins. The Lightning have won nine in a row and 21 of their last 24. Tampa Bay will look to keep this winning streak up with a win on Monday.
The Avalanche have earned a record of 33-17-6 throughout this season, which has them in second place of the Central Division. Colorado is two points behind the division leading St. Louis Blues and one point ahead of the Dallas Stars. The Avalanche have lost two in a row coming into this game, but had won five in a row before those two losses. Colorado will look to get back on track with a big win on Monday.
These two teams have earned strong records to this point in the season, which has helped to get them into solid playoff positions. The Lightning have been red hot as of late and they have jumped their way almost to the top of the NHL standings. Colorado has struggled in their last two games and will look to get back in the win column at home in this one.
These two teams met up twice throughout last season. The first game was in Colorado, where Nikita Kucherov scored the lone goal to give the Lightning a big 1-0 win. The second game shifted to Tampa Bay, where Steven Stamkos earned two goals and two assists. Ondrej Palat earned two goals as well that night to help the Lightning earn a big 7-1 win to sweep the season series.
The first game of this season’s series was hosted by Tampa Bay on October 19. Kevin Shattenkirk finished with two assists on that night to give the Lightning a chance, but it wasn’t enough. Tyson Jost had a hat trick, while Colin Wilson had three assists. Pavel Francouz stopped 44 of the 46 shots against him to earn a nice 6-2 win.
The Lightning were able to earn the sweep in last season’s series, but I believe that the Avalanche have a chance to sweep this series. Colorado was able to solve the Tampa Bay early and often in the first game of the series and they will look to do something similarly on Monday night. That game was early in the regular season though and the Lightning have gotten much stronger since then.
Tampa Bay has been spectacular on both sides of special teams so far this season. The Lightning have been able to capitalize on 42 of their 175 power play opportunities, which is a 24 percent success rate. Tampa Bay’s penalty kill has been just as good. The Lightning have killed off 154 of the 183 power plays against them, which is an 84.2 percent penalty kill.
Despite the Avalanche’s success this season, their special teams play has not been great. Colorado’s power play has been able to score on 38 of their 195 chances, which is a 19.5 percent power play rate. The Avalanche’s penalty kill has been similar this season, allowing 37 goals on 173 of the opposing teams power play attempts, which is a 78.6 percent kill rate.
The Lightning have a huge edge on special teams in this game. Colorado will look to shut down Tampa Bay’s power play to try and even the playing field on special teams. If the Avalanche can step up on either side of special teams it could give them a chance to earn the win, but if the Lightning dominate on special teams, I think they will get the victory.
Andrei Vasilevskiy will likely get the nod in the crease for the Lightning on Monday night. Vasilevskiy has earned a record of 31-9-3 through 43 games started. He has posted a save percentage of .921 and a 2.41 GAA through those starts. Vasilevskiy’s last start came against the Edmonton Oilers, where he stopped 29 of the 30 shots against him, which helped Tampa Bay earn a big win.
I expect Pavel Francouz to get the start in net for the Avalanche in this matchup. Francouz has a record of 13-4-2 to this point in the season. He has earned a .925 save percentage and a GAA of 2.42 through those games. Francouz’s last start came against the Minnesota Wild, where he stopped 34 of the 36 shots against him to help give Colorado a win.
These two goalies have earned strong stats for their respective teams this season. Francouz has not had as much experience this season as Vasilevskiy, but he has done well in his time played. Francouz had to step into the last game against the Kings when Philipp Grubauer went down with injury. Now the Avalanche will need Francouz to step up while Grubauer’s out.
I believe that the Avalanche have a good chance to end Tampa Bay’s winning streak on Monday night. Colorado has hit a bit of a rough patch as of late, but I believe they will step up in this one. If the Avalanche can step up on special teams, it could give them the necessary edge. Colorado will look for Francouz to step up in a big way on Monday night.
BetOnline has the Lightning listed as a -106 against the money line on Monday night. This gives the slightest of edges to Tampa Bay to earn the win. The Avalanche are at home for this game, which makes me think they should be favored in this game. The Lightning are on a nice winning streak, but I think that they are due for a loss.