Columbus Blue Jackets at Tampa Bay Lightning
|Date & Time||Wednesday April 10, 2019, 7:00 PM (EDT)|
Tampa Bay Lightning: -0.5 (-145) / Columbus Blue Jackets: 0.5 (+131)
SN360, TVA, USA
The Columbus Blue Jackets and the Tampa Bay Lightning meet in game one of their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series from the Amalie Arena on Wednesday night.
The Columbus Blue Jackets come into the playoffs as the second wild card team, finishing the regular season with a record of 47-31-4 translating to 98 points. Artemi Panarin led the Blue Jackets in scoring this season with 87 points as well as dishing out a team-high 59 assists. Cam Atkinson led Columbus with 41 goals and 295 shots on goal as part of his 69 point season while midseason acquisition Matt Duchene finished the season with a total of 70 points. Sergei Bobrovsky finished the season with a record of 37-25-9 with a 2.58 GAA and 9 shutouts this season.
The Tampa Bay Lightning enter the opening round of the postseason as the top seed in the Eastern Conference as well as the Presidents’ Cup winners, finishing the year with a record of 62-16-4, translating to 128 points, the highest total for any team since 1996 and finishing a whopping 21 points clear of the next team in the overall standings. Nikita Kucherov led not only Tampa Bay but the entire NHL in scoring with 128 points along with 87 assists and 246 shots on goal. Steven Stamkos led the Bolts in goals with 45 while finishing 4th in the NHL in that category. Andrei Vasilevskiy finished the season with a record of 39-13-6 along with 6 shutouts and a 2.40 GAA this season.
Columbus is 5-0 in their last 5 road games and 7-1 in their last 8 games overall while the under is 12-5 in their last 17 games against a team with a winning record. Tampa Bay is 44-8 in their last 52 games against the Eastern Conference and 40-13 in their last 53 home games while the over is 7-2 in their last 9 games overall. Columbus is 0-6 in the last 6 meetings between these two teams and 3-10 in the last 13 meetings between these two teams in Tampa Bay.
The plus money with Columbus is tempting considering that the Blue Jackets finished the regular season strong and played some of their best road hockey down the stretch. However, Tampa Bay is easily the team to beat this postseason and outscored the Blue Jackets 17-3 in winning all 3 meetings between the two teams this season. Playoffs are a different kind of environment, but I need to see that Columbus can hang before taking a shot on any sort of plus money, so given the history between the two sides this season, I’ll side with Tampa Bay to get the job done in regulation.