Colorado Avalanche (31-13-5) at Tampa Bay Lightning (30-16-5)
|Date & Time||Saturday January 25, 2014, 7:00 PM (EST)|
|Location||Unknown Location Unknown Address|
The Line: Tampa Bay Lightning -131 / Colorado Avalanche +119 --- Over/Under: 5.5
|TV Channel||Stream NHL games all season on ESPN+ for only $4.99 a month. Sign up now!|
The Avalanche look for the Florida sweep on Saturday as they head to Tampa Bay from Sunrise to take on the Lightning.
Colorado has had the biggest turnaround of any team in the league this season as they went from selecting first overall in last July’s entry draft to one of the best teams in the Western Conference and last night they showed it again but taming the Florida Panthers. It is a bit deceiving though how far the AVs have come as they were actually a very good team last year but just couldn’t seem to find enough chemistry to win on a consistent basis despite having some very talented players in place. It couldn’t have worked out any better though as they got the best player in the draft in Nathan Mackinnon and brought in two former stalwarts of the team with Patrick Roy manning the coaching duties and Joe Sakic as the team’s general manager. The Avs head into Tampa Bay in third place in the Central division and have points in 8 of their last 10 games but will have to deal with Ben Bishop in the Tampa crease who has been red hot all season long.
The Lightning have been another one of the league’s biggest surprises this season as they have gone from missing the playoffs to contending for the Atlantic division crown and all the while they have been without their best player in Steven Stamkos. Tampa Bay has generated much of their success from the play of Ben Bishop between the pipes but a lot of credit goes to the players in front of him at both ends of the ice. Martin St. Louis is tearing it up again and has used the snub from the Canadian Olympic team (from his Tampa Bay general manager no less) as motivation to succeed for the rest of the season especially without Stamkos in the lineup. While I think the Bolts are a nice story and they’ll certainly make some noise in the postseason I simply don’t think they have what it takes to make a deep playoff run and in these circumstances I will always side with a team from the Western Conference.