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Odds Taken from FanDuel Sportsbook
Tampa Bay Lightning
9-5-1 (2nd in Central Division)
8-6-1 (3rd in Atlantic Division)
Jason Robertson (23)
Nikita Kucherov (23)
Jason Robertson (10)
Nikita Kucherov (7)
Jason Robertson (13)
Nikita Kucherov (16)
Joe Pavelski (12)
Nicholas Paul (7)
Jason Robertson (3.93)
Shots (Per Game)
Steven Stamkos (4.07)
The Dallas Stars will travel to Florida to face the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Stars are off to a hot start and sitting in 2nd in the Central Division. The Lightning are also off to a solid start and in third place in the Atlantic Division.
The Stars have a very similar roster to last season but are performing at a much higher level. Their offense averages well over 3.50 goals per game, and their defense only allows a little over 2.50 goals per game. In addition, their primary goaltender, Jake Oettinger, is a top-five netminder.
The Stars offense is led by winger Jason Robertson. Robertson is having a tremendous season and has ten goals and 13 assists. This is particularly impressive because he is playing less than 17 minutes a game. Robertson is often on the ice with Roope Hintz. Hintz also plays less than 17 minutes a game, but he has six goals and 13 assists. I could name another handful of players that have been game-changers for the Stars this season, but these two lead the way.
As I mentioned before Jake Oettinger is a top-five goaltender. Oettinger has a 6-2 record and is only 1.80 goals per game. He is a brick wall in net, but his backup, Scott Wedgewood, is not. Wedgewood plays a little less than Oettinger but has seen his fair share of playing time. The 30-year-old gives up 3.21 goals per game and needs to step up.
The Lightning have a great all-around roster, but their defense could use some work. Tampa has had no issue scoring the puck this season but is giving up 3.20 goals per game.
Nikita Kucherov has been the top player on the Lightning this year. Kucherov has 23 points and is coming off a one-goal, one-assist game. The Lightning have other solid wingers and centers, but I would be remiss if I did not mention Victor Hedman. Hedman is a leader on this team but has only scored one goal and has a +/- of -2. Much of the Lightning’s defensive mistakes are due to him. Hedman needs to get out of this funk and start playing at the level expected of him.
Andrei Vasilevskiy has been the #1 goaltender in Tampa for many years now. In the past, he has performed well in that role, but this year is different. Vasilevskiy is struggling and giving up 3.10 goals per game. He must improve, or the Lightning are in trouble.
The Stars have a more well-rounded team and are playing better hockey right now, so they will surprise the Lightning and win this road battle.
The Stars are the underdogs but will win if they shoot a lot and play aggressive defense.
The Stars will either face Andrei Vasilevskiy or Brian Elliot in net for the Lightning. Neither Vasilevskiy of Elliot are performing particularly well this season and both have save percentages below .900. Since this is the case, the Stars need to fire at will. If they do, they will run up the score.
The Stars have a high-powered offense, but the Lightning have a strong offense too. Tampa averages 3.27 goals per game and scored six goals in their previous game on Sunday. The Stars’ defensemen must be cognizant of the Lightning offense and play aggressively.
The Lightning are the favorites but have a tough matchup today. However, they can win if they avoid committing penalties and score the first goal.
The Lightning are going up against a Dallas team with the third-best power play unit in the NHL. The Stars are converting on over 30% of their power play opportunities. The Lightning need to limit the Stars’ chances as much as possible, and the best way to do that is by avoiding penalties.
Statistically, the team that scores first wins the majority of the time. The momentum shifts in that team’s direction, and they have the edge from that point on. The Lightning need to be the team that strikes first tonight, so they can get the momentum on their side. That will be the difference between loss and victory.
Is anyone surprised by this choice? Jason Robertson is the most impactful player on this Stars squad and becoming the face of this franchise.
Robertson has scored at least one goal in seven of the last eight games and has an eight-game point streak. His influence cannot be understated, and he is largely responsible for Dallas’ early success.
Robertson does need to adjust his game today. Dallas will be in an excellent position if he keeps performing at this elite level.
Mikhail Sergachev is one of the best defensemen on the Lightning. Sergachev leads all Lightning defensemen in goals (4), assists (10), and points (14).
Sergachev is having an outstanding season, but that is not why I chose him as the key player. I chose Sergachev because he is coming off a great game against the Washington Capitals. The 24-year-old finished with two goals and two assists in over 24 minutes played.
Sergachev needs to carry this momentum from last game into today’s game. If he does, he may be in for another huge night.
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Max Heering graduated from the University of Kansas Sport Management program in May 2020. Max follows and writes about the NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL, MLS, college football, and college basketball. In his free time, you can catch Max draining threes on the basketball court. Email: [email protected]More info on Max Heering
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