Tampa Bay Lightning at Columbus Blue Jackets Preview
The Columbus Blue Jackets have lost seven of their last eight games after a pair of losses in Florida this past weekend. Adding to the drama, Ohio native Jack Roslovic was a healthy scratch Saturday against the Panthers and appears to be trying to work his way out of Coach John Tortorella’s doghouse.
The Blue Jackets return home after a dismal road trip that saw them lose five of their six games, and if there are any thoughts about making the playoffs, they must obviously turn things around quickly. Columbus is currently five points back of a playoff spot with less than 20 games remaining on the schedule.
The Tampa Bay Lightning are battling in-state rival the Florida Panthers for the top spot in the Central division. Tampa and Columbus played each other twice just over a week ago and split the mini-series in Tampa. Head to head this year; each team is 2-2 in the four games they have played against each other.
Tampa Bay Lightning
Over their last 10 games, the Lightning are a respectable 6-4. However, they have struggled very recently and are only 2-4 over their last six games.
The last time Tampa was on the ice, they dropped a 5-1 decision to the lowly Detroit Red Wings. Christopher Gibson was in net for Tampa last game and stopped only 13 of the 17 shots he faced.
Offensively the Lightning does lead the division in goals scored this year, tied with Florida with 130 goals in 38 games. However, over their last 5 games, the Lightning have managed to score only 10 times.
Tampa Bay Injuries
Obviously, superstar Nikita Kucherov being sidelined for the year has hurt Tampa, and Kucherov will be out at least another month. Otherwise, the Lightning arrive in Columbus pretty healthy for this game with no key skaters expected to be out of the lineup.
Columbus Blue Jackets
The Blue Jackets have won only three games in their last 10 starts. As mentioned above, Columbus has lost seven of their last eight and return home, reeling from a road trip that saw them win one game in six starts.
The last Blue Jackets win was on March 30th in Tampa Bay. Columbus held on for a 3-1 decision when Jackets goalie Elvis Merzlikins stopped 37 of the 38 shots he faced.
After losing both games against the Panthers this past weekend, Columbus will also be playing their third game in four nights.
For the year, Columbus has scored 32 fewer goals than Tampa, and the offensively challenged Blue Jackets have only 12 goals over their last eight games.
Already dealing with long-term injuries to forwards Brandon Dubinsky and Gustav Nyqvist, forward Riley Nash left Sunday’s game versus Florida in the second period with a lower-body injury and is listed as day to day.
- Tampa Bay ML - 200
- Columbus ML - +170
- Over / Under - 5.5 (-135 Under)
With Christopher Gibson having started in goal in their last game, it is expected that Andrei Vasilevskiy will get the next start for Tampa Bay. Assuming Vasilevskiy does start and is in form, goals will continue to be difficult for Columbus, and that is clearly reflected in the Over/ Under line for this game.
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