Minnesota Wild (42-16-6) at Tampa Bay Lightning (30-26-9)
|Date & Time||Thursday March 9, 2017, 7:30 PM (EST)|
The Line: Tampa Bay Lightning / Minnesota Wild --- Over/Under:
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The Minnesota look to continue their impressive season as they take to the road to face off against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday night.
The Wild have been one of the league’s best teams all season long and they are out for another big road win as they head into Tampa Bay to battle a Lightning side who has been playing better of late but have been a huge disappointment this season. The Wild have been an exciting team to watch as they don’t have a ton of elite level players but have been an excellent team as a whole and are very deep across the board, and that has been the recipe for success for most teams in this league over the years. Minnesota will turn to Vezina and Hart Trophy candidate Devan Dubnyk in the crease here as he has been brilliant since the first whistle this season and actually has better numbers than Carey Price when he was crowned the league MVP a few years ago. Dubnyk will square off with Andrei Vasilevskiy who is a promising young goaltender and has assumed the starter’s role ever since Ben Bishop was traded to the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The Bolts meanwhile came into the season as a favourite to come out of the Eastern Conference after a strong outing last year but an early season injury to Steven Stamkos and some inconsistent play from some of their top forwards has them in the running for a top draft pick instead of a berth in the playoffs. Tampa Bay has unloaded some of their expiring contracts and look poised to go through a reloading process as they have some draft picks and prospects in their control and with Tyler Johnson, Nikita Kucherov, Ondrej Palat, and Stamkos up front and a blue line anchored by Victor Hedman the team is in great shape moving forward. As for tonight, they are in a tough spot as the Wild have been excellent both home and away this season and have their sights set on top spot in the Western Conference and they will be focused from now until the end of the year.
Minnesota is 15-3 in their last 18 road games and 11-1 in their last 12 against the Atlantic while the Lightning are 5-2 in their last seven home games and 0-4 in their last four Thursday games. Minnesota is the better team here across the board and while they are due for a lull before season’s end I don’t see it starting here against the Bolts.