The San Jose Sharks and Tampa Bay Lightning meet up in the sunshine state for an intriguing matchup in Tampa. Both of these organizations have high hopes for the spring time, but the Sharks are one of those teams who are extremely difficult to trust in the playoffs. Everyone wants to talks about how badly the Ducks choke in the playoffs, which has been the case the last several years, but at least the Ducks have a Stanley Cup to show for it in 2007. The Sharks haven’t had anything to show for their efforts, and they’ve had some nice regular seasons. The Sharks started this season off relatively slow, but have turned it around, and with it, once again are looking like a playoff team. A playoff team is one thing, but being a team that can produce in the playoffs is another. Joe Thornton is still the leader of this squad, and is still playing at a high level. Thornton and the Sharks have earned a 29-20-3 record. They still need to hold it all together, but they have been playing relatively well. They face the Lightning tonight.
The Lightning are making the headlines at the moment. All of the talk it situated on the future of Steven Stamkos. The Lightning have said that they will not be trading Stamkos at the trade deadline. The speculation is that the Lightning are not going to be able to afford Stamkos and he will be looking elsewhere to call home. The writing seems to be on the wall, but the Lightning appear to be ready to hold on to him for the rest of the season. Tampa still has a good team and are in contention, trading Stamkos away would seal the rest of the season for the Lightning in my opinion. It would be a sign that they are throwing in the towel and not even going to bother with the rest of the year. Tyler Johnson has seen a sharp drop in production this season, last season scoring 29 goal and 43 assists. In 2015-16 Johnson has only netted 8 goals with 14 assists. Further, Ondrej Palat has scored 6 goals and 10 assists. So, it’s easy to see why the Lightning haven’t been quite as dominant this season. However, with a 30-21-1 record, the Lightning are alive and well.
Due to all the Stamkos trade talk, you would think the Lightning are a below .500 team with no shot of making the playoffs. That isn’t the case. The Lightning are just one year removed from reaching the Stanley Cup Finals, they’re still a team we should be paying attention to. Get the pick and the rest of the write-up below.
San Jose Sharks vs. Tampa Bay Lightning NHL Pick
The Lightning enter tonight coming off a 2-1 loss to the St. Louis Blues at home. With Jaden Schwartz back for the Blues, they are a squad worth keeping an eye on. They should be a team that trends up for the rest of the season. But anyways, the Lightning have found only one win in their last four games, a 4-3 win against the Preds in overtime. They are 6-4 in their last ten games. Many of those six wins came against good teams. The Bolts defeated the Blackhawks, Red Wings, and Penguins, all three solid teams. The Sharks have had a similar ten game stretch, going 6-4 in their last ten as well.
The Lightning were victorious the last time they met up this season, which resulted in a 4-3 win for the Lightning. They have outscored the Sharks 9-5 in their last two meetings. The Lightning have been a good team at home this season with a 18-9-2 record. The Sharks have in fact been much better on the road than at home, posting a 18-8-2 record compared to 11-12-1 at home. I think after the Lightning came out and said they are not trading Stamkos, it should take away from the distractions in the locker room. I see them coming out with a good effort against the Sharks at home, who travelled across the country to arrive in Tampa. The Sharks have been so good at home, but I feel like there has to be some regression here as the season progresses. The Lightning out east look like a perfect spot for the Sharks to get beat.
PICK: LIGHTNING TO WIN -124