Good matchup in Minnesota tonight, as the Tampa Bay Lightning and Wild meet at the Xcel Energy Center. On a side note, the Xcel Energy Center is one of the few arena names I can get behind. There are some names that don’t exactly roll off the tongue too well. The Lightning travel to Minnesota after failing to beat the Golden Knights at home. They also lost to the Flames prior to the Vegas loss, as they took a loss against the Flames.
Neither of the losses were particularly pretty, which amounted to a 4-1 loss to the Lightning and 5-1 against Flames. The Lightning were expected to bounce back against the Knights, but the Knights had different plans and earned arguably their best win of the year. The best will go through minor spurts of bad play, and the Lightning were just victims of it their last two outings. Nothing goes directly up in a straight line.
The Lightning better like the road, because they’re going to be away from home for eight straight games. They didn’t leave Tampa on the best footing, as they lost two in a row. The Lightning had five matchups on the road, before returning home to face the Hurricanes, which they won 5-4. They’ve won just five of their last ten games, as they go through a bit of a consolidation period. The Lightning still hold a record of 31-11-1, which puts them in 1st in the Eastern Conference.
No reason to panic for the Lightning. When it’s all said and done, with the talent they have, they’re going to be a contender until the end. Does it mean they reach the finals? The NHL is so wide open that it’s no guarantee, but barring injuries, they should be a tough out in the playoffs. The Wild are coming off a 3-2 loss to the Canucks on the 14th. They should be fresh coming off their bye week. Get our free Lightning vs. Wild pick below.
Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Minnesota Wild Pick
Predictably so, the Lightning offence has played extremely well spearheaded by Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov. Kucherov has 61 points, 1st out of all players in the NHL, while Stamkos is 7th with 53 points. They also have a guy in net, Andrei Vasilevskiy, who leads the league in wins with 27. Vasilevskiy boasts a GAA of 2.23 with a 0.929 save percentage. The Lightning lead the NHL with an average of 3.56 goals per game. They’re also allowing 2.53 goals per game for 3rd overall. They’ve regressed a bit lately, but their overall body of work is quite impressive.
The Wild have been relatively average. They come in with a record of 24-17-4 and will have to hit a run in the second-half of the season. There are going to be a few teams that get on a hot run who are currently flirting with a wildcard. The Wild certainly hope they’re going to be one of those teams. Note that the Wild are 17th in the NHL with 2.85 goals per game, and 16th on defence with 2.83 goals per game. In other words, the numbers would tell you they should be a .500 team.
However, they’re holding tough and a game back of the final wildcard at the moment. I do think the Wild are going to catch the Lightning on a bad night, though. A bad night for the Wild that is. After a couple of uninspiring performances at home, I can see the Lightning getting this road trip started on a high note. You want to find the last time the Lightning lost three games in a row? We have to go back to March 21st. They haven’t dropped three in a row thus far, and I don’t foresee it happening tonight. The Wild will be fresh, but they have a talented and focused Tampa team coming to town to greet them in their first outing since the 14th.
PICK: LIGHTNING (-120)