A quick turnaround for NHL teams, we go from the All-Star Game on Saturday night and back to regular season action on Monday night. There are six games on the card tonight, with the Tampa Bay Lightning and Dallas Stars taking part in the festivities. The Lightning are in Texas for a meeting with the Stars at American Airlines Center. They’re way off the pace from last season. Tampa lost just 16 games in regulation in 2018-19.
Heading into the backend of the season in 2019-20, the Lightning are in danger of losing their 16th game in regulation on Monday. A loss against the Stars in 60 minutes and the Lightning will fall to 29-16-4 on the year. Their 16 losses in the regular season wasn’t an effective formula when it came to the playoffs, so perhaps we’ll see out of them this season in the playoffs. I know they will at least win a game.
The Lightning are currently at 62 points, which puts them 8 points behind the Bruins for 1st in the Atlantic Division. That’s not an unclimbable hill for the Lightning. Boston regressed following a red-hot opening stretch, and I believe the Lightning are going to have a run in them late in the season. The Bruins may keep their lead, but the Lightning could make things interesting if they play how we know they’re capable of playing.
Talent is of course present for the Lightning. We saw it on full display in their last game before the All-Star break. The Lightning lit the red light seven times, as they routed the Wild by a score of 7-1 on January 16. They are winners in 12 of their last 14 games, after having a ten-game winning streak snapped against the Devils recently. While they’re only a game away from matching their loss total from last season, the Lightning have been picking it up of late.
On the other side, the Stars are coming off a shellacking in Minnesota. We were able to grab the Wild in that one, and it was the easiest win of the season, as they pummeled the Stars for a 7-0 win. The Stars began their All-Star break a day too early. Their heads weren’t in that one, though we should expect to see them get back to form. They enter Monday with a record of 27-17-4 for 3rd in the Central Division. Sitting 10 points back of the Blues for the top spot is going to make it difficult on them to mount a comeback for the division, but a wildcard is right there. Head below for our free Lightning vs. Stars pick.
Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Dallas Stars Betting Odds:
Lightning vs. Stars Prediction:
The Stars didn’t look like themselves against the Wild in Minnesota. That much was for certain before the All-Star break. The lack of goal scoring and offence has hurt them at times this season, but the defensive effort is typically much better than that. Heiskanen was not on the blueline because of a concussion, but there really wasn’t an excuse for the shoddy performance and 7 goals against. Despite no Heiskanen, they are a much better defence than that. The Stars enter Monday with 2.46 goals against to lead all teams in the NHL. So, despite the disaster in Minnesota with 7 goals allowed, the Stars are still tops in the league defensively. At home, they’ve been much better as well.
Note that Dallas has surrendered a stellar 2.08 goals per game at the American Airlines Center this season. It follows that Ben Bishop’s numbers go up significantly at home as well. Bishop has posted a 2.96 GAA and 0.907 save percentage on the road as opposed to a 1.91 GAA and 0.938 save percentage at home. Those numbers suggest that he’s been a totally different guy in the crease when in Dallas. When the Stars have won this season, Bishop has recorded a 1.43 GAA and 0.957 save percentage. However, when the Stars lose, Bishop has been bad with a 3.61 GAA and 0.877 save percentage. In other words, his importance to the team’s success is drastic. Especially considering how their offence has struggled often.
The Stars are 27th in the NHL with 2.56 goals scored per game. A few years ago that might have been good enough to get by, but with scoring up, they’re going to need to find an extra gear to get through the playoffs alive. Even at home, the increase in goals is marginal, as they’ve scored just 2.58 goals a game at the American Airlines Center. And for the Lightning, they’ve been winning games recently because of their improved play defensively. In their last ten games, the Lightning have yielded only 1.7 goals per contest. Andrei Vasilevskiy has been solid against the Stars in the past, having registered a 2.25 GAA and 0.925 save percentage in seven games. Expect this to play out as a competitive, tight game that results in a 3-2 final score, which indicates a spot to bet the UNDER in Dallas.