Lightning vs. Blue Jackets Odds
|Blue Jackets Odds||+170|
|Time | TV||Tuesday, 7 p.m. ET | Bally Sports Sun|
This Lightning squad is coming off a very so-so week in which they went 2-2 against the bottom two teams in the division.
Now, Columbus will host Tampa Bay for the first of another two-game set Tuesday night. The teams split a pair of games last week in Tampa.
There is certainly a bit of a budding rivalry between the two clubs following back-to-back first-round playoff matchups and now have been thrown into a makeshift Central Division together. Tomorrow night’s matchup will be game five of eight this season, with Columbus actually leading the season series with a 2-1-1 record.
The Blue Jackets have been a consistently underrated bunch under coach John Tortorella, making the playoffs four years in a row after squeaking past Toronto in last year’s playoff play-in round and before losing to the eventual champion Lightning.
The previous year, Columbus stunned the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Lightning with a four-game sweep. In 2017-18, the Jackets gave the cup champion Capitals arguably their toughest series, losing in six, including hitting the post to prevent them from taking a 3-0 series stranglehold.
The Blue Jackets also racked up 108 points in 2016-17 before losing in Round 1 to the eventual champion Penguins.
So, I certainly believe the Blue Jackets have had some very underrated rosters, often with several players not receiving the credit they deserve. That includes the duo of Seth Jones and Zach Werenski, which has at times been arguably the best 1-2 punch on any blue line in the league.
However, this year’s Blue Jackets have clearly been well worse than any of those previously mentioned teams. The Blue Jackets sit dead last in 5-on-5 xGF% on the season at 45.29%. The roster certainly has lost several relevant pieces, and at times, I believe Tortorella’s line deployments, in-game benchings, and lineups have been nothing short of puzzling.
Certainly, Tortorella’s intent is to expect his star players to play their way in all areas of the ice, and I respect that.
But I believe it’s showing that at times that Tortorella needs to live with certain perceived defensive issues in order to ice his best players — guys who make up for these concerns with their ability to control possession and create offense.
It isn’t exactly like Columbus has skated 12 offensive studs out there every game this season, yet Tortorella has already healthy scratched Patrik Laine and Jack Roslovic each since their arrivals after being traded for star center Pierre-Luc Dubois, who Tortorella had also scratched this season.
All this said, Tortorella certainly isn’t working with the ridiculously talented roster that coach Jon Cooper is in Tampa Bay, and who knows if the Blue Jackets would have better results with another coach.
But I do wonder if that day might be coming as soon as this offseason once Tortorella’s current deal is up.
Expected goals (also known as xG) is a predictive statistic that gives an indication of whether results are based on sustainable factors like a steady creation of scoring chances, or whether it is down to aspects such as shooting luck or outstanding goaltending.
Simply put, an expected goals rate (xGF%) above 50% is considered good because it means a team is creating the majority of the scoring chances. Anything below 50% is usually a sign that a team is struggling to control play.
xG numbers cited from Evolving Hockey.
Tampa Bay has probably had a bit less urgency so far this season than many teams, as it looks to play its best hockey when it really counts in an effort to repeat as Stanley Cup champions.
I believe to not think of them as the clear favorite in the East bracket is foolish.
The roster is incredibly deep, still awaiting a very conveniently timed return from 2018-19 Hart Trophy winner Nikita Kucherov. Victor Hedman is the clear Norris Trophy leader in my mind, aided a little by the incredibly talented Cale Makar missing games.
Brayden Point continues to be dominant at both ends of the ice, and Steven Stamkos is clearly back in form. Andrei Vasilevskiy leads the league in goals saved above expected at 24.2 and owns a .932 over 29 games this season.
The Lightning are in a close race for tops in the central division, two points behind Florida for first with a game in hand. Carolina also sits one point behind Tampa with 53 points and holds a game in hand over the Lightning.
Betting Analysis & Pick
Columbus is going to bring a tight-checking game and is certainly not a ton of fun to play against if true to form. However, the Blue Jackets haven’t controlled play often this year, as evidenced by their dead last xGF% of 45.29.
The top talent is simply not there up front anymore. The Lightning have a very deep roster, highlighted with some of the top talent in the league. I believe we should see Vasilevskiy return to his net tomorrow, having rested Sunday.
I think that hard to debate that Tampa Bay isn’t simply in a class beyond Columbus if the Lightning are playing at their best.
Given the tight division race and the embarrassing 5-1 loss to Detroit on Sunday, I think it’s fair to say we should see Tampa Bay come out with some more urgency than we have seen at times this year.
I like Tampa Bay to get this done in regulation, and I think -122 on DraftKings is a very fair price.
Pick: Lightning 3-Way Moneyline -122
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