The National Hockey League is finally back with a new season, starting Wednesday, January 13, so here’s the best betting pick and trends for the Chicago Blackhawks vs. Tampa Bay Lightning showdown along with the latest odds on BetAmerica Sportsbook.
The upcoming NHL season will be one of a kind. In the next 116 days, we will see 868 games – 56 contests per team. The shortened schedule is not the only novelty, as the teams are divided into the newly formed divisions and will play entirely against other teams in their division.
Hereof, the Blackhawks and Lightning will meet each other eight times this term, so let’s see what can we expect from their opening contest Wednesday night at Amalie Arena in Tampa.
The Blackhawks aim for another playoff appearance
Since the 2015 Stanley Cup Final victory over Tampa Bay, the Chicago Blackhawks have struggled a lot. After missing a couple of postseasons, the Blackhawks returned to the playoffs last year thanks to an expanded format and didn’t disappoint.
Chicago upset the Edmonton Oilers in the qualifying round and proceeded to the Western Conference First Round, but the Blackhawks couldn’t cope with the Vegas Golden Knights and lost in five games.
Patrick Kane was the Blackhawks’ best player last term. The 32-year-old winger couldn’t surpass a 100-point mark for the third time in his career, but Kane still scored 33 goals and had 51 assists in 70 appearances.
Chicago finished the regular season with a 32-30-8 record. The Blackhawks were 18th in the league in goals scored per game (2.97) and 16th in goals against (3.06). They lost goalie Corey Crawford in the offseason, so the Blackhawks will be running with Malcolm Subban and Collin Delia between the pipes.
The Lightning hope for a Stanley Cup repeat
The Tampa Bay Lightning won their second Stanley Cup in franchise history last season, outlasting the Dallas Stars in six games. The previous playoffs were special and played at the neutral site in the bubble, so the Lightning hope for another championship run, considering how strange the 2021 NHL season is going to be.
Nikita Kucherov led the way for Tampa this past regular season, accounting for the team-high 33 goals and 52 assists. He added seven goals and 27 assists in the playoffs, but Kucherov will miss the upcoming season due to a hip injury.
Andrei Vasilevskiy remains Tampa’s starting goalie, and the 26-year-old Russian was playing at the highest level last year, going 35-14-3 in the regular season and 18-7 in the playoffs. The Lightning were scoring 3.47 goals per game (1st in the NHL) while surrendering 2.77 in a return (tied-7th).Trends:
- 1-8 in the last nine games against Tampa
- 1-5 in the last six road games
- 4-1 in the last five home tilts against Chicago
- 10-3 in the last 13 games played in January
The Winner Prediction
The Lightning should be fired up to start the new season on the right foot and prove they are strong favorites to retain the crown. Despite Nikita Kucherov’s absence, the hosts are a much better offensive team than Chicago, while Andrei Vasilevskiy should be another key factor in Wednesday’s opener.
Therefore, I’m backing the Lightning to win by two or more goals, but I suggest you take it easy in the first few weeks of the new season. We’ll see some huge upsets, for sure, so try to keep your stakes modest.
Pick: Take Tampa Bay -1.5 at +110
Without a pre-season, the teams will need some time to gel things, and I think that will affect their defenses a lot. Hereof, I would bet on the over, but I don’t feel comfortable with a 6.5-goal line at all.
The Lightning had the highest-scoring offense in the league last season, but their defense was also a top-notch one. The Blackhawks will have to put on a strong offensive performance if they want to score a few times against Vasilevskiy, while the Lightning shouldn’t have any problems finding the net whoever guards the cage on the other side.
Pick: Go over 6.5 goals at +115