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Lightning vs. Blue Jackets Pick – NHL December 14th

After the Tampa Bay Lightning lost in the Stanley Cup Finals last year, there was a certain kind of belief that the Lightning would be right back at the top and competing for another Stanley Cup. Whether it is distractions with Steven Stamkos leaving the Lightning or what, but the Lightning have not looked like the same team we seen the past few seasons. At 14-13-1-2 they are not completely out of the picture. In fact, a nice run would get them right to where they want to be. Look at the Red Wings, who were fluctuating a bit and then went on a 13 point game streak. The Lightning are supposed to be one of those teams who rip off those kind of streaks. Tampa continues on trying to get the season going in the right direction with a Monday night meeting with the Columbus Blue Jackets.

The Lightning are coming off a hard 2-1 loss to the 1st place Capitals. That would have been a good win for the Lightning, but they failed to come out successfully. Tampa is 6-4 in their last ten games. After a couple of games at home they head out to Ohio for the Blue Jackets. The same Blue Jackets who got off to one of the worst starts in NHL history, before getting back on the right track with John Tortorella behind the bench. The Jackets are actually putting in some effort since he took over. However, Columbus has currently lost three games in a row and in danger of losing a fourth against the Lightning. In fact, the Blue Jackets have lost six of their last seven games.

That is the Jackets team we knew in the first few weeks. I didn’t expect Tortorella to jump in and take a 0-9 team to the playoffs, but they did show improvements initially. Lately, though, they have reverted back to the way they were playing before. Are they going to be able to kill the Lightning confidence even further? Or is this going to be a game for the Lightning to gain some confidence? This is one of those games for the Lightning where they need to win. Losing to the Blue Jackets would be a hard fall from grace just a few months ago in the spring. We’ll see what happens Monday night.

Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Columbus Blue Jackets NHL Pick

Stamkos created a little more controversy in the Toronto Maple Leafs rumors by favoriting another post on twitter that had to do with him coming to Toronto. I think he is just trolling everybody and hyping everyone up for no reason. He is getting a laugh out of it. But the possibilities of Stamkos dipping out of Tampa is looking good. He has 11 goals and 11 assists this season. Not bad, but off his pace in previous seasons. Once the top scoring team in the NHL, the Lightning aren’t even in the top 20 this season in goals! Tampa is scoring 2.33 goals per game which is 27th in the NHL.

The Lightning have maintained an excellent defense this season, though. They are 2nd in the NHL in goals against with 2.20 goals allowed per game. Ben Bishop has been one of the best goals in the league this season with a terrific 1.96 GAA. He is on pace for his best season as a pro after two productive campaigns, which seen him go for a 2.23 GAA and 2.32 GAA last season. The Jackets have scored only 2 goals per game in their last seven games. Only twice did they score more than 2 goals. I see the Lightning being able to limit the Blue Jackets on offense. The price looks good to me. I see Tampa as a -155 favorite in this game, but we’re getting better than that. I’m riding with the Lightning.

PICK: LIGHTNING TO WIN -136