Blackhawks at Lightning Picks
By Adam Markowitz
There’s no team in hockey that has looked better than the Tampa Bay Lightning through the first quarter of the season. Tampa Bay is off to a blistering 15-3-2 start and is four points and two games up on Toronto in the Atlantic Division. It’s not like the Lightning have played an easy schedule or a heavily tilted home slate either with games against the best teams in the NHL and just 11 home games thus far. On Wednesday night, they will welcome the Chicago Blackhawks to town.
Chicago Blackhawks at Tampa Bay Lightning
Date and Time:Wednesday, November 22, 2017, 7:30 p.m. ET
Location: Amalie Arena, Tampa, Florida
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Blackhawks at Lightning TV Coverage: NBCSN
The Lightning did drop a game to the Islanders on Saturday, but had won five in a row prior to that. Tampa Bay has been sound in all phases of the game and in those five wins, they tallied a power play goal and kept its opponent from scoring on its power play chances. It’s hard to undersell just how good this team has been.
Things haven’t gone as well for the Blackhawks. Chicago is in fourth place in the Central Division at the moment and has just as many wins as losses. It was able to knock off Pittsburgh on the road on Saturday, but it’s been a season of middling performances for the Blackhawks.
Tampa Bay is the highest scoring team in the NHL by a good margin. The Lightning are averaging four goals a game and the first line with Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov has been out of this world.
Stamkos and Kucherov are leading the league in points and both are on pace to finish with well over 100 points this season. Stamkos has 10 goals and 25 assists, and he has four more helpers than any other player in the NHL. Kucherov has been the one lighting the lamp, with 17 goals and 16 assists. The duo has been especially deadly on the power play and is averaging a goal every other game.
On the other end of the ice, Andrei Vasilevskiy has proven to be a solid netminder. There were a lot of concerns that the Lightning were making a mistake when they dealt Ben Bishop last season, but Vasilevskiy has been doing just fine. He has a save percentage of .928 so far thus season and has a dazzling 14-2-1 record. It’s important that he is playing so well as the Lightning favor a wide open style that often leaves him with little help. He has proven adept at the position.
If it wasn’t for Patrick Kane, the Blackhawks would be in a world of trouble right now. Kane has helped keep this team afloat when a lot of their scoring options have failed to find the back of the net. He has six more points than anyone else on the team and isn’t benefitting from inflated totals because of his prevalence on the power play unit.
Kane now has a helper in four straight games and gave ArtemAnisimov the secondary assist on the game-winner over the Penguins on Saturday. He has really helped Anisimov come into his own with his vision and playmaking.
Blackhawks at Lightning Free Picks
It will be a battle of strengths when Tampa Bay goes on the power play in this one. The Lightning are the best in the NHL at lighting the lamp with the man advantage and have scored on 28 percent of their chances. Meanwhile, Chicago has one of the five best penalty kills in the league and is stopping opponents 84.9 percent of the time on the power play.
With how they have played, the Lightning are sure to be a decent-sized favorite in this one. Tampa Bay is expecting a sellout for one of its first nationally televised games of the season and the crowd is sure to be rocking. Go ahead and back the Bolts on the goal line as they get back to their winning ways.
Blackhawks at Lightning Pick: Lay 1.5 goals with Tampa Bay on the puck line
Blackhawks at Lightning Score Prediction: Lightning 5 – Blackhawks 2