Vancouver Canucks (30-29-10) at Tampa Bay Lightning (36-24-7)
|Date & Time||Monday March 17, 2014, 7:30 PM (EDT)|
The Line: Tampa Bay Lightning -168 / Vancouver Canucks +153 --- Over/Under: 5
|TV Channel||Stream NHL games all season on ESPN+ for only $4.99 a month. Sign up now!|
The Canucks look to build on Sunday’s win against the Panthers as attempt to complete the Florida sweep on Monday against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The Vancouver Canucks got an absolutely massive victory on Sunday in Sunrise, Florida not only for their playoff aspirations but a huge mental victory as the team went in and defeated former goaltender Roberto Luongo who was critical of the team after his departure. The Canucks have had an absolute whirlwind of a season which was capped off by the Luongo trade and the Ryan Kesler non-trade which had stolen most of the headlines around the NHL trade deadline a couple weeks ago. Vancouver has been written off by many this season as skeptics believe that even if they somehow qualify for the postseason they will be in no position to make a push for the Cup as things have gone downhill for the once perennial Cup contender. To me, the Canucks have underachieved in a big way but I wasn’t really sold on them to begin with and thought they were always overrated but now they have turned the tables and are constantly underrated in games they have great chances to win.
The Lightning are in the midst of a playoff push as well as many thought their season was over when Steven Stamkos went down, and again when Martin St. Louis was traded yet Ben Bishop and the Bolts currently hold the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference and have won two straight. Tampa is in a logjam with the Canadiens, Maple Leafs, and Flyers in the middle of the pack but the bottom portion of the playoff picture is closing the door quickly as only five points separate third from eighth. Bishop has to be considered the favourite to win the Vezina Trophy as he has carried the Bolts all season long and while Tuukka Rask and Semyon Varlamov may have something to say about it I think with what Bishop has in front of him he has done more with less than the other two. Bishop should get the start here and while he is playing much better than Eddie Lack the Canucks are in crisis mode right now and are much closer to Tampa than this line indicates. I am backing the underdog here as John Tortorella gets a chance to upend one of his former teams in the process.