Hockey Pick: New Jersey Devils @ Tampa Bay Lightning 12/12/11
Two teams that are badly in need of a good string of games to get back in the playoff race in the Eastern Conference square off in NHL betting action on Monday, as the New Jersey Devils take on the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The Devils surprisingly missed out on the playoff last season after just an atrocious start to the season. Things aren’t that much better this year though, as they only have 29 points to show for their first 28 games on the campaign. It almost seems as though the Atlantic Division race is totally out of the realm of possibility, and that means that at best, this team might be able to make it into the back end of the playoffs. If there is good news (and it’s hard to find for sure), it is that New Jersey ranks No. 1 in the league on the penalty kill at 93.4 percent. Aside from that though, this team ranks No. 20 or worse in basically every major category, especially on offense. The Devils are No. 27 in the NL at 2.3 goals per game, and they are No. 25 or worse both in terms of shots per game (27.4, 25th) and on the power play (12.6%, 26th). More is definitely expected out of a team that only has two players that have 20 points this year and eight players with 10 or more points.
The Lightning went the other direction last year, making the playoffs and going all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals in spite of the fact that they supposedly didn’t have the depth or the goaltending to get the job done. This year though, it should be no surprise that depth and goaltending are the big problems. In net, the Bolts are ranked just No. 27 in the league, allowing 3.2 goals per game. Meanwhile, an offense that is averaging 2.5 goals per game, is really only getting major contributions from its stars. Steven Stamkos has 30 points already this year, while both Martin St. Louis and Vincent LeCavalier have a combined 41 points. The rest of the team only has three players with more than eight points in the first 29 games of the year. If there is good news for Tampa Bay (and again, it’s hard to find), it is that the team hasn’t played that many home games this year. This is just the 12th home game of the season as opposed to the 18 games on the road, so the possibility is there to make a move.
New Jersey Devils @ Tampa Bay Lightning Pick: This isn’t a good spot for the Lightning, though. The Devils have won seven of their last eight visits to Tampa Bay, and they are 19-7 in the last 26 meetings in this series overall. New Jersey already has one win here at the St. Pete Times Forum this year, a 4-2 victory in November, and we think that that will be the case once again on Monday.
NHL Pick: New Jersey Devils
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