In what is coined the letdown bowl on Saturday, the Tampa Bay Lightning and Dallas Stars meet up tonight in Texas. Two former teams who were certified Stanley Cup contenders, have seen their seasons turn upside down this season. We head to the Lone Star State for our Saturday NHL pick. The Lightning, most notably, have flirted with the championship for the last decade, ever since Steven Stamkos was drafted really.
They captured the Stanley Cup in 2004 and had a few years at the back, but quickly accelerated to the top of the NHL under Stamkos. In the offseason there were major questions if Stamkos was going to return, but he ultimately chose Tampa over his other options. However, Stamkos has been on the shelf for much of the year and has only played in seventeen games. He owns 9 goals and 11 assists in that span, so it’s no knock on his play. Without him, the Bolts have slid to 25-24-4.
Stamkos is certainly good for a few more wins than 25, so they’d be looking more like a playoff team with him installed in the lineup. Nevertheless, they are better off than the Stars are at this juncture. The Stars are 22-27-9 so the idea of them making the playoffs is looking a little less likely.
They had a team primed and ready to make a strong run last season, following a 50-23-9 finish and 1st place in the Central Division. They were ultimately outed by the St. louis Blues, 4-3 in the playoffs. The Stars were expecting a lot more, but they had this season to go look forward to, right?
Dallas are well below .500 and are going to need something major to change for them to find the playoffs again. A year after they fixed their defence, they’re right back to getting lit up in their own zone. Let’s head below for our Lightning vs Stars pick on Saturday night.
Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Dallas Stars Pick
Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin, the Stars’ two leaders, have been healthy pretty well through the regular season. The same can’t be said for the Lightning, who have only gotten seventeen games out of Stamkos. Dallas have no excuses, they’ve just been playing bad hockey and are going to run out of town if they don’t figure it out fast. The Stars have won just 1 game in their last seven games, which came last weekend against the Hurricanes.
They’re in danger of dropping four in a row against the Lightning tonight. The defence has sorely let them down, and it hasn’t gotten any better for them. Overall they are 29th in the NHL, allowing 3.20 goals in their last ten games. In their last ten games, they’ve surrendered 3.60 goals per game. The offence scored 3.20 goals per game during that stretch, so they are doing their best to shoulder the load.
The Lightning have been a little all over the place. They’ve yet to establish an identity for the 2016-17 season. Without Stamkos, it’s become increasingly difficult for them to do so. Tyler Johnson could be doing better, as he enters tonight with only 16 goals and 17 assists in 54 games played. You could say that Stamkos does a good job of helping him out. Nonetheless, the Lightning should be able to find some room against this abysmal defence in Dallas. I like our pick for Saturday in Dallas to go OVER the posted total.
PICK: OVER 5.5 GOALS (-110)