New Jersey Devils (0-0-1) at Tampa Bay Lightning (1-0-0)
|Date & Time||Saturday October 15, 2016, 7:00 PM (EDT)|
The Line: Tampa Bay Lightning -185 / New Jersey Devils +145 --- Over/Under: 5
The New Jersey Devils look for their first win of the season as they head into Tampa Bay to battle the Lightning in a show down of Eastern Conference playoff hopefuls.
The Devils took a tough overtime loss in their season opener against the Panthers and they stay in Florida for this one against the Lightning who have aspirations and expectations to be the representative out of the Eastern Conference this season. New Jersey made waves this offseason when they traded for Taylor Hall and that gives them a pretty solid group offensively and certainly adds a bona fide scorer that the team had been missing since the departure of Zach Parise. New Jersey still has some holes and will rely way too often on Corey Schneider to bail them out of games, but he has done that since he arrived and won’t back down from that expectation now as he is one of the best goalies in the NHL.
The Lightning meanwhile stormed back after a sluggish start to claim their season opener at home against the Detroit Red Wings, but they will have to be sharper here against the Devils who to me are a much deeper side than the Wings. The Bolts will likely turn to Ben Bishop in this one who didn’t have a great start to the year after allowing four goals against the Wings and with Schneider on the other side who has a 1.91 GAA and a .941 save percentage though his first game I think the edge has to go to the road team here. Tampa’s goaltending discussion will take centre stage this season as Andrei Vasilevskiy is waiting in the wings and deserves to be given a shot to be the go to guy which means Bishop’s days with the team could be numbered.
The Devils are 6-0 in their last six games when their opponent scored five or more goals in their previous outing, 1-5 in their last six against the Atlantic, and 1-5 in their last six overall while the Bolts are 6-2 in their last eight following a win, 68-33 in their last 101 home games, and 8-3 in their last 11 Saturday games. This game is chalk as the Bolts are big favourites but I am not willing to lay it as the Devils are a good team with a great goaltender. I like the total here as Schneider keeps it close and Bishop will be out to prove his worth after a shaky season opener.