The Tampa Bay Lightning stay in the desert after a losing effort in Las Vegas on Thursday night. The Golden Knights looked like a team that wanted to be there, while the Lightning went through the motions at T-Mobile Arena. Tough game for the Lightning, but it was only their first loss in 12 games. The Lightning went on a monster run that didn’t include a loss since January 27, which actually included a point because of an overtime loss.
Their last loss in regulation, before Las Vegas, was January 16 against the Minnesota Wild, 3-2. Are they going to kick start a new winning streak tonight? Or is the loss against the Golden Knights going to snowball into a losing streak? I will say that the Bruins aren’t giving the Lightning a break recently. Despite a big 11-game winning streak, the Bruins are still up on the Lightning in the Atlantic Division.
Boston is on a big run of their own, so the Lightning have been holding strong without gaining much ground. After what happened to the Lightning last season, and what we’ve seen from Presidents’ Trophy winners in the past, I wouldn’t be too concerned with catching the Bruins, though. If they can go into the playoffs with some momentum that’s the most important. Don’t treat any first round opponent like a pushover and the Lightning should make out well regardless.
The Lightning had the talent last season, and they have it this season to win a Stanley Cup. All it takes is a dry spell at the wrong time to get removed from the equation, though. The Lightning know that better than anybody. They’re looking at a record of 40-16-5 and 85 points. This after people thought earlier in the year that the Lightning were going to have to suffer through a complete year long hangover.
They certainly weren’t playing like this early on. For instance, the Lightning lost 8 of 13 games in December. This was before they opened a 10-game winning streak on December 23. In October, the Lightning lost 7 of their first 13 games, so there were indications that the Lightning were going to have a down season.
The Lightning have put the doubters and pessimists to bed, though. They face a Coyotes team in a wild race in the Pacific Division. 1st, top-3 in the division, wildcard, or no playoffs are all on the tables for the Yotes. Arizona head into Saturday with a record of 30-26-8 and 68 points. Head below for our free Lightning vs. Coyotes pick.
Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Arizona Coyotes Betting Odds:
Lightning vs. Coyotes Prediction:
The Golden Knights attacked the Lightning early and often. Instead of letting the game come to them, Peter DeBoer forced the issue and put pressure on the Lightning defence. Vegas scored 5 goals on Vasilevskiy, as he was way off with a 0.848 save percentage on 28 shots. Getting traffic to the net and causing havoc around the crease is the best way to get Vasilevskiy out of sync. The Golden Knights were able to execute that game plan brilliantly. It could have been a much better effort by the Lightning in that one, though. They’ve been a lot better on the defensive end in the last two months despite the performance in Las Vegas.
Vasilevskiy owns a 2.48 GAA and 0.919 save percentage, which is way down from the 3.00 GAA he was flirting with early on this season. The start of their hot run can be attributed to Vasilevskiy finally getting his head straight in the crease. Vasilevskiy has been more than fine on the road, with a 2.37 GAA and 0.924 save percentage. He has had a tremendous career against the Coyotes in 6 games. The former Vezina winner has posted a 1.33 GAA and 0.955 save percentage with just 7 goals against on 157 shots. In the Lightning’s previous two games against the Yotes, they’ve allowed a total of just 1 goal in 4-0 and 4-1 wins.
We’ll see how the defence responds to the poor showing in Las Vegas against a Coyote team that has struggled to consistently find offence. The Coyotes made a deal to acquire Taylor Hall from the Devils, but the improvement hasn’t been there enough to justify the trade. After spending less than a year with the Coyotes, there have been rumours that the front office is looking to make a deal to shop Hall out of town, though they’ve denied them.
The Devils haven’t done much right this season, but that looks like a win for them. Arizona is 26th in the league with an average of 2.64 goals scored per game. They’ve recorded only 2.2 goals a game in their last ten outings. Expect a fundamentally sound game from the Lightning after they got away from that Thursday night in Vegas. The Arizona defence will likely offer some resistance against the Bolts, though it’s likely not going to be enough to overcome a dangerous Lightning squad tonight. Look for a 3-2 or 4-2 win for the Lightning here.