New Jersey Devils (44-29-9) at Tampa Bay Lightning (54-23-5)
|Date & Time||Thursday April 12, 2018, 7:00 PM (EDT)|
The Line: Tampa Bay Lightning -220 / New Jersey Devils +180 --- Over/Under: 6
|TV Channel||Stream NHL games all season on ESPN+. Start your 7-day FREE trial today!|
The New Jersey Devils return to the playoff mix after a long hiatus and they kick off their second season on the road against the top seeded Tampa Bay Lightning.
The Devils head into the playoffs as one of the league’s hottest teams as they have been playing meaningful, desperate hockey for the better part of a month and they will hope that their late season syrge will carry over into the playoffs. The Devils have been out of the mix for the Stanley Cup for quite some time but a fast start and finish to the regular season made up for their lackluster middle stretch and now they have at least the opportunity to compete for a championship, though the odds makers aren’t giving them much of a chance in this series, or tonight’s game one. The Devils are led by Taylor Hall and that’s about it as he is far and away the team’s leading scorer and in his first bout in the playoffs after years of futility in Edmonton and with a victory here New Jersey would claim their fifth win in a row against divisional foes.
The Bolts meanwhile come into the playoffs with a staggering mark on home ice as they are 40-18 in their last 58 home games and got news that star forward Steven Stamkos is expected to be in action for first face off. The Lightning are 6-1 in their last seven Eastern Conference quarterfinal games and are big time favourites in this game and with a 21-6 stretch in their last 27 games on Thursday it makes sense to see the Atlantic division champions laying juice in this spot. The Devils though have dominated this series of late despite not having a ton of success in Tampa Bay but a 4-1 mark in the last four show downs against the Bolts has New Jersey building some confidence as a road dog.
The Devils are 4-1 in their last five overall and 9-26 in their last 35 Thursday games while the Lightning are 8-3 in their last 11 against the Metro and 13-6 in their last 19 against the East. New Jersey has had Tampa’s number but the Lightning have a ton to prove here and in their series opener at home I like them to get it done comfortably.