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Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Florida Panthers - 10/10/13

Florida Panthers (1-2-0) at Tampa Bay Lightning (2-1-0)

NHL Hockey: Thursday, October 10, 2013 at 7:30 pm (Tampa Bay Times Forum)

The Line: Tampa Bay Lightning -173 / Florida Panthers +157 --- Over/Under: 5.5 See the Latest Odds

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The Florida Panthers look to get in the win column as they head to Tampa Bay to take on a Lightning team who has won two in a row.

The Florida Panthers enter this season without much in terms of expectation and playoff aspirations at least from an outsider’s perspective as they have a depleted roster and now even more so as their biggest offseason acquisition in Tim Thomas is out definitely with an injury. Florida should finish the season in the bottom portion of the NHL standings and will be in the running to obtain the top pick in this year’s NHL entry draft which will hopefully be the first step in getting this team back to respectability. Jonathan Huberdeau is in just his second season in the league and is already the team’s primary scoring threat which goes a long way in painting a picture for this year’s Florida Panthers. They head into Tampa Bay who is playing quite well at the moment and has a ton of offensive weapons which doesn’t bode well for Florida.

Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Florida Panthers - 10/10/13

Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

Tampa Bay has looked great in their last two contests after dropping their season opener and the resilience they displayed by coming back to win against the Sabres on Tuesday night should give them a ton of confidence here. Steven Stamkos is probably the league’s most lethal goal scorer and when paired up with Martin St. Louis the two of them are almost unstoppable and become the focal point of every team’s defensive strategy. Ben Bishop however serves to be the difference maker for the Bolts this season as the former Blues and Senators goaltender has carved out a niche for himself in Tampa and is sporting an impressive 2-0 record and 1.90 GAA. If Bishop can continue his strong play and the Bolts get enough from their blue line I think they could return to the postseason and challenge for the East crown but more than likely they’re a year and a piece away from seriously contending. Nonetheless, they are without question the better team here and I think they lay the wood at home against a hapless Panthers team.

Tampa Bay Lightning -1.5

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