There will be some heat on the ice as the Tampa Bay Lightning and San Jose Sharks meet on Wednesday night. The 11-2-1 Lightning, will take on the Sharks who have won four in a row, and five of their last six contests. The Lightning have jumped out to 1st in the Eastern Conference on this young season. Over in the Western Conference, there are the Kings at 10-2-2 and Blues at 12-3-1, but the next closest team to the Bolts in the east are the Penguins with 9 wins.
Are the Lightning really the team to beat in the Eastern Conference? At the moment, you can’t really deny that. However, we’re not even at the mid-way point of November. The way I see it, the Penguins are still the class of the conference. The Lightning are up there, but it would be tough to pick against the Penguins, if we’re predicting future success this season.
A healthy Steven Stamkos makes for a dangerous Lightning team, though. He’s been playing pain free, and it’s certainly shown on the ice. Stamkos played in just seventeen games last season and was playing well before he had to sit the year out. It made the Lightning fear that they maybe should have watched him walk and sign with another team.
This start for Stamkos should make them feel a lot better, though. He’s been a playmaking machine, rattling off 18 assists in only 15 games. Stamkos has also chipped in with 7 goals. Stamkos leads the NHL in points, and fellow Bolt, Nikita Kucherov is leading the league with 14 goals. The Sharks will try and tame them at home at the Shark Tank in San Jose. Get our free Lightning vs. Sharks pick below.
Tampa Bay Lightning vs. San Jose Sharks Pick
The Lightning survived against the Blue Jackets on Saturday, earning a 5-4 win in overtime. In their last four games, they’ve dropped a couple of games against the Rangers and Ducks. Overall this season, the Lightning have been turning the red light on with ease, scoring an average of 3.87 goals per game. If Stamkos or Kucherov go down, though, you’ll see their scoring regress considerably. God forbid of both of them get injured for an extended period of time. This matchup is a battle of offence vs. defence. The Sharks have been getting physical and getting back to basics in their own zone.
Note that the Sharks are allowing 2.31 goals per game in 20178-18 thus far. They’ve been playing lockdown hockey in the regard lately, allowing just 1.5 goals per game in their last six contests. The Sharks have given up more than 2 goals just twice in their last ten games. Their defence should get better tonight as well. It appears that one of their top blueliners, Marc-Eduardo Vlasic is being cleared to play against the Lightning.
Martin Jones has been sharp as a tack for the Sharks in net, as he enters Wednesday with a GAA of 1.98 and 0.93% save percentage. The Lightning and Sharks have both gotten a nice break, as Saturday was their last time on the ice. I suspect the team who has to travel cross-country from Florida to California is going to be the team who enters less focused. The Sharks have been sitting back at home for the longest period of time you’ll see before the All-Star break. This will be their fourth game in a row at home, so the last time they had to hit the road was on October 28th. I can see the Lightning getting too comfortable tonight, in their first game out west. The Sharks take it in what should be an outstanding game.
PICK: SHARKS (-115)