Toronto Maple Leafs (14-12-7) at Tampa Bay Lightning (17-15-3)
|Date & Time||Thursday December 29, 2016, 7:30 PM (EST)|
The Line: Tampa Bay Lightning / Toronto Maple Leafs --- Over/Under:
|TV Channel||Stream NHL games all season on ESPN+ for only $4.99 a month. Sign up now!|
The Toronto Maple Leafs continue their Florida road trip after a date with the Panthers last night as they head into Tampa Bay to battle the Lightning on Thursday.
The Maple Leafs look to continue their recent road success as they head into St. Petersburg to face off against the Tampa Bay Lightning in an Atlantic division show down on Thursday night. The Buds have been playing considerably well of late and are looking like a group that could very well defy the odds and join the playoff fray as early as this season as their youngsters are playing very well and a group of veterans are keeping everyone afloat, including goaltender Frederik Andersen who has been brilliant. The Leafs head into this one coming off a battle with the Florida Panthers but they remain two games above the .500 mark and are right in the mix in the Eastern Conference as we approach the end of December and for a fan base starving for something positive this is something to hang their hats onto for now.
The Lightning meanwhile came into the season as a favourite to not only win the Eastern Conference but were a popular pick in many circles to win the Stanley Cup as they have a budding core of offensive fire power, a blue line anchored by superstar Victor Hedman, and a goaltending tandem of Ben Bishop and youngster Andrei Vasilevskiy. However, expectations have been cooled off a little bit thanks to a slow start and a handful of injuries that has sidelined Steven Stamkos indefinitely and now Bishop who will be out for a couple of months. The Bolts head into tonight’s game coming off a tough game against the Canadiens last night and will face another stiff test here against a young Leafs side that won’t be gassed in a back to back.
The Leafs are 4-1 in their last five Thursday games and 21-61 in their last 82 road games while the Lightning are 4-10 in their last 14 overall and 9-4 in their last 13 against the Atlantic. Toronto is a tough team to sort out as they always show up for big games and while Tampa to me is the better team overall they aren’t playing like it and I will take my chances with Toronto here.