Florida Panthers (0-0-0) at Tampa Bay Lightning (0-0-0)
|Date & Time||Friday October 6, 2017, 7:30 PM (EDT)|
The Line: Tampa Bay Lightning -150 / Florida Panthers +130 --- Over/Under: 5.5
The Florida Panthers open the NHL season at instate rival the Tampa Bay Lightning on Friday.
The Florida Panthers made a late push for the postseason a year ago but ultimately came up short at 35-36-5-6. The Panthers were third in the league at 32.2 shots but averaged 2.5 goals to rank number 23 while the defense gave up 2.8 goals on 31.6 points to reside in the bottom third of the NHL rankings. The Panthers made plenty of changes throughout including management, a new head coach in Bob Boughner and some roster moves. Gone are Jonathan Marchessault, Reilly Smith, Jussi Jokinen and Jaromi Jagr while a sagging Florida offense is hoping Jonathan Huberneau stays healthy while Vincent Trocheck, Aleksander Barkov, Radim Vrbata, Owen Tippet and Evgeny Davydov will be asked to boost the scoring. Florida will have veteran Roberto Luongo and James Reimer in the nets but this team wasn’t known for their goaltending.
The Tampa Bay Lightning seemed to be a step behind the postseason chase a year ago and never found a groove. The Lightning finished 5th in the Atlantic at 42-30-7-3 and were middle of the row at both ends of the ice. The Bolts were #14 in goals at 2.8 per contest while giving up 2.7 goals to rank 16th. Much of Tampa Bay’s hopes rest on Steven Stamkos who was hurt a season ago and has been injured more often then not but if he can stay on the ice along side of Nikita Kucherov the offense will be a headache for opposing goalies. The Lightning are hoping Andrei Vasilevskiy is the rock in the nets that is Stanley Cup caliber and gives the team the defense to go deep in to the playoffs.
Panthers are 1-5 in their last 6 vs. Atlantic and Panthers are 1-5 in their last 6 road games and Panthers are 3-13 in their last 16 after scoring 2 goals or less in their previous game. Lightning are 7-0 in their last 7 when their opponent scores 2 goals or less in their previous game and Lightning are 4-0 in their last 4 after allowing 2 goals or less in their previous game and Lightning are 0-4 in their last 4 games after allowing 8 or more power play opportunities in their previous game. Home team is 4-0 in the last 4 meetings and Panthers are 2-7 in the last 9 meetings in Tampa Bay and over is 12-4 in the last 16 meetings in Tampa Bay.
The Lightning are healthy and I’m looking for them to celebrate with a win in their season opener…