The potential is there for a ton of goals in Monday night’s nationally televised NHL betting battle, a game featuring the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Tampa Bay Lightning.
It really has been a tale of two seasons for the Lightning. They went on a stretch of five games where they scored a whopping 28 goals and went 5-0-0. Over the course of the rest of the year though, they have averaged just 2.9 goals per game and have gone 4-11-1. The defense has consistent been shoddy for the second straight season, and it really hasn’t mattered whether G Anders Lindback, or the new flavor of the month for Head Coach Guy Boucher, G Mathieu Garon has been in the pipes. The team just flat out stinks on this side of the ice, as demonstrated by the fact that Tampa Bay allows 30.5 shots and 3.1 goals per game on the season. Seemingly the only way that this team is winning games is by getting great contributions from its offense. Granted, that’s a lot easier to say when you’ve got men like C Steve Stamkos and RW Martin St. Louis sharing a line and combining for 58 points in 21 games. However, beyond these two, the rest of this team isn’t all that special, so times will understandably be tough for the Bolts for the rest of the year.
The Penguins aren’t a phenomenal defensive team either, but as we saw on Saturday night against the Montreal Canadiens, they aren’t necessarily going to have to be in order to win games. This is one of the best offenses in all of hockey, and stopping C Sidney Crosby is simply impossible. He had another goal and two assists against the Habs, giving him a league best 24 assists and 34 points on the season. He is also the only man in the league with at least 10 goals and at least 20 assists for the campaign. LW Chris Kunitz had a big game against Montreal as well, and he has 27 points to show for his work on the season. LW James Neal is second in the league in goals behind Stamkos with 13, and he has eight helpers to boot as well. Even more notable is the fact that C Evgeni Malkin hasn’t even found his way back into the lineup yet, and it is amazing to think that the men in black and gold are doing all of this winning without last year’s Hart Trophy winner in the lineup.
And that’s why we really have no choice but to back the Penguins on Monday night. Other teams that have better goalies that can shut down this offense might be able to beat the Pens, but we have seen consistently over the course of the last two years that Tampa Bay cannot. The Lightning are no match for what Pittsburgh is going to bring the table, and unless they can get a super game out of the Stamkos/St. Louis line, there probably isn’t much hope for even one point, let alone two.
Tampa Bay Lightning @ Pittsburgh Penguins Pick: Pittsburgh Penguins