NHL Odds, Preview, Prediction: Lightning vs. Senators (Dec. 11)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images. Pictured: Tampa Bay Lightning star Nikita Kucherov.
Lightning vs. Senators Odds
|Time||1 p.m. ET|
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In an Atlantic Division matchup, the red-hot Stanley Cup champs Tampa Bay Lightning take on the Ottawa Senators in Saturday’s NHL matinee. While Tampa Bay has managed to stay undefeated in December, the Senators have gone 3-7 in their last 10 games.
The Lightning started the season in a surprisingly mediocre fashion, but boy, have they shaken off the rust. In the past 10 games, they’ve gone 8-1-1 and have won their last five outings. It’s certainly not a shock, but with the amount of hockey they’ve played in the past two years, it’s a very impressive feat.
Ottawa has dealt with its struggles this season. The Senators aimed for it to be the end of their rebuild, but after a battle with COVID-19 issues and having to postpone games, they haven’t had an easy road.
Tampa Bay Lightning
I’d say it’s certainly fun to be a hockey fan in central Florida right now. After winning two consecutive Stanley Cup titles, the Lightning are looking to win a third straight championship, which would be the first time it could happen since the 1980s..
Tampa Bay packs a heavy punch with a roster of captain Steven Stamkos, Victor Hedman, Alex Killorn and Ondrej Palat. The Lightning strike fear in all of their opponents and the league will have a hard time dethroning the reigning champions.
With the loaded roster, it shouldn’t be a surprise that the Lightning are one of the better teams 5-on-5. They currently sit seventh in expected goals per 60 minutes, with a 2.7 xGF and generate the fourth-most high danger chances with 259 this season. After recording a historic power play in the playoffs last year, they haven’t been as consistent, scoring at a 19.7% clip.
Andrei Vasilevskiy is the world’s best goaltender and it’s not close. He can take over any game at any time, driving opponents crazy no matter what kind of chances they throw at him. Last year’s Conn Smythe winner is picking up where he left off with a .927 SV% and a 13.5 Goals Saved Above Expected (GSAx) this season.
The Senators have been on a roller coaster this season. In the middle of their COVID-19 outbreak, they lost six consecutive games, then won three in a row and then were the first to fall to the New York Islanders after their 11-game losing streak.
The talent is certainly there. Drake Batherson is shaping up to be an exceptional player, while captain Brady Tkachuk and Josh Norris are becoming staples on the top line. So while the potential is there, the fans can’t be happy with what they’ve seen so far.
With all the struggles the Senators have had, they struggle on 5-on-5. They’re a poor team in expected goals per 60 with a 2.25 xGF, and are one of the worst teams at generating high-danger chances. On top of that, their power play is poor, only scoring at a 17.5% rate. Factor in the poor offense with underperforming goaltending, Ottawa ranks at the bottom of the league.
After hoping that Matt Murray would be the answer in net for them, it hasn’t worked out at all in Ottawa. The former two-time Stanley Cup winning goaltender has had a fall from grace since dominating the league.
Suddenly it’s become the net of Filip Gustavsson and Anton Forsberg. Regardless, the team in front of them hasn’t helped. Gustavsson is posting an .893 SV% and a -4.1 GSAx while Forsberg has an .895 SV% and a -1.6 GSAx.
Senators vs. Lightning Pick
The one thing Ottawa has for them is that it does play hard. While the Senators beat top teams like Carolina and Colorado recently, Tampa Bay is a whole new animal.
I don’t see this game being close, with the Lightning pulling out a convincing victory.
Pick: Tampa Bay (-150 or better)