The Tampa Bay, who feed off of home cooking (22-6-1), stay out West and will face a huge test at the Pond in Anaheim as they face the Western Conference Pacific Division 1st place Anaheim Ducks.
Ice time is set for 10:00 pm ET tonight at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California. According to 5Dimes Sportsbook, the Ducks are a -121 NHL betting odds favorite and the total for the game is listed at 5.5 goals.
This game can go either way. Even though Tampa Bay has played better than Anaheim, the Lightning are a much better home team than road team and the Ducks are at the top of the standings each season despite their statistics.
Please keep an eye on sites that provide the starting goalies because it can really give you an edge as it's given me. As of now, it's unconfirmed, therefore, we're expecting a Ben Bishop vs. Josh Gibson matchup in net.
Gibson (3-3, 2.77 GAA) had been defending the net fairly well until his last game, a 5-3 loss to the Washington Capitals.We'll give him a pass for that one as any goaltender would have a difficult time against the great Alex Ovechkin.
There's no doubt that Ben Bishop has received some offensive support as the Lightning are the top scoring team in the NHL at 3.2 goals per game, but Bishop has actually held his own.
For the season, he's 28-10-3 with a 2.45 GAA. In his last game, Bishop didn't hide behind the offense as he stopped 33 of 35 San Jose shots as the Lightning went on to win 5-2. While Anaheim is the favorite due to home ice and possible the mystique of being a perennial winner, Tampa Bay has an unstoppable offense and I don't know if Gibson will be up for the task.
#1 In the NHL
As I stated earlier, the Lightning rank number 1 in goals and it's helped them accrue 76 points on the season as a collective team. The Lightning have 6 players that have 40 points or more, This is quite amazing as some other NHL teams don't even have a 40 point scorer.
On this team, the combination of Steven Stamkos and Tyler Johnson have been unstoppable. Johnson leads the team in points with 55 and possesses an amazing +21 in the plus/minus differential, but Stamkos is the most aggressive player on the Lightning with 30 goals and 188 shots on goal. Amazingly, Stamkos is a -1, but that doesn't always tell the story as the Lightning's success speaks for itself.
In his last 3 games, Stamkos has 2 goals and 1 assist and had 2 assists in an earlier matchup against the Ducks this season. Johnson is also playing well as of late with 2 goals in his last 3 games. Look for this tandem to tee off on Josh Gibson.
All They Do Is Win
Where Anaheim is concerned, you can't even put a finger on it. They just find ways to win games as they're in the middle of the pack in most statistical categories. The one category in which they excel at is wins and that's all that counts in the NHL.
The combination of Ryan Getzlaf (17 goals and 37 assists) and Corey Perry (24 goals, 16 assists) have worked rather well for the Ducks. Perry has been holding up the fort for the Ducks as Getzlaf has been held scoreless in his last 3 games, but don't expect that to continue for too long. For the month of February, Perry has played well with 5 goals and 3 assists in just 7 games. Expect him to be a factor in tonight's matchup.
The odds indicate that this game can go either way, but I like the offense of Tampa Bay against Gibson in net. Take the underdog Lightning as your NHL pick.
Free NHL Pick- Tampa Bay +111 at 5 Dimes