Tampa Bay Lightning (14-7-0) at Anaheim Ducks (15-6-3)
|Date & Time||Friday November 22, 2013, 10:00 PM (EST)|
The Line: Anaheim Ducks -163 / Tampa Bay Lightning +148 --- Over/Under: 5.5
The Lightning finish off their West Coast trip in Anaheim on Friday night as they look to salvage some dignity after two shattering losses to the Kings and Sharks.
Tampa Bay was on top of the hockey world just two short weeks ago as they raced out to a very fast start and were soaring behind the offensive output and leadership of Steve Stamkos but the injury against Boston to the Bolts’ superstar has the team reeling at the moment. The Lightning were considered playoff contenders and even potential division winners based on the way they were playing in October and early November but now they look average at best and will be hard pressed to make the playoffs. The Lightning did face two of the league’s best teams in San Jose and Los Angeles in the past two contests and get another league force in Anaheim tonight so it isn’t as simple to say that the loss of Stamkos is the reason they’re doing poorly here but it obviously doesn’t help. Ben Bishop will look to give the Lightning a chance to steal one game here as he goes at it with Jonas Hiller.
The Ducks were another team hot out of the gates but have since cooled off a little bit yet still remain very much in the picture in the Western Conference standings as they sit in top spot in the Pacific and third place overall. The Ducks have a very talented group led by Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf but they have a ton of depth as well and a great tandem of net minders that has sprung the rumor mill into full force on one of them, likely tonight’s starter Hiller to be on the move. Anaheim does have a look ahead spot here as well but I think will be looking to assert themselves as a team to be reckoned with this season and as such they have to find ways to win these back to back contests and beat the teams they should win against. However, I am a bit weary here as the Lightning have Saturday off so will be able to give it their all but they just played against two of the game’s best teams and playing a third in four nights is very taxing. Either way I like this one to stay under as Bishop is a great goaltender and with the Lightning playing in a back to back I think they try and preserve the defensive zone.