Columbus Blue Jackets vs. Tampa Bay Lightning December 15 Betting Preview
The Columbus Blue Jackets (10-16-2) and Tampa Bay Lightning (18-9-1) meet in an Eastern Conference clash at Amalie Arena on Thursday night.
Tampa Bay is riding a three-game winning streak with victories over the Nashville Predators, Florida Panthers, and Seattle Kraken. Columbus, meanwhile, is 3-6-1 in its last ten games and are coming off of a 4-0 loss to the Panthers.
Tampa Bay has risen to third in the Atlantic Division and are starting to play like the team that has appeared in three consecutive Stanley Cup Finals. Columbus has been a major disappointment despite signing prized free agent Johnny Gaudreau in the offseason. They are in last place in the Metropolitan Division.
Elvis Merzlikins is the expected starting goaltender for the Blue Jackets. He's 4-8-0 with a 4.68 goals-against average and .864 save percentage. Andrei Vasilevskiy, the expected starter for the Lightning, is 12-8-1 with a 2.63 goals-against average and a .913 save percentage.
Columbus Needs Defense And Goaltending
The offense hasn't been great, but it's been defense and goaltending that has largely hurt the Blue Jackets this season.
They have allowed the second-most goals against per game at 4.07, and it hasn't all been the goaltenders' fault. Columbus has also allowed the second most shots against at 35.5. The team's overall defensive zone play can best be described as sloppy.
Gaudreau leads the Blue Jackets in points with 31 in 28 games but hasn't been quite as dynamic as he was last season with the Calgary Flames. Boone Jenner and Kent Johnson rank second and third in scoring with 21 and 14 points.
Zach Werenski, the team's best defenseman, is likely out for the season, and that's a major reason for their poor defensive play. Defensemen Adam Boqvist and Jake Bean are also out with injuries.
Tampa Bay Rounding Into Form
The Lightning are really starting to become a dominant force in the Eastern Conference after a somewhat slow start. Vasilevskiy has allowed just 13 goals in his last seven games, while the team's veteran stars are scoring at a high rate.
Nikita Kucherov leads Tampa Bay with 42 points in 28 games, while Steven Stamkos and Brayden Point have 34 and 30 points, respectively. Tampa Bay is 7-3-0 in their last ten games and rank fifth in the league with 3.61 goals per game.
Tampa Bay is without center Vladislav Namestnikov, winger Rudolfs Balcers, and defenseman Mikhail Sergachev.
Blue Jackets vs. Lightning Betting Prediction
The real value here is the over/under, which is list at 6.5. The over and under pay out (+100) and (-121), respectively. Tampa Bay has scored at least four goals in each of their last three games, and Columbus has allowed 19 goals over their last four games. With that, we will take the over tonight, and hope the Blue Jackets can score a few goals of their own.
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