Tag: Tampa Bay Lightning

My Top Three Picks To Be Crowned Stanley Cup Champions 2018-2019

Based off the odds of Vegas, what teams have a legitimate shot at the Stanley Cup?

Tampa Bay Lightning +300

Toronto Maple Leafs +550

Calgary Flames: +1000

Nashville Predators:  +1200

San Jose Sharks: +1200

Winnipeg Jets +1200

Washington Capitals +1400

Pittsburgh Penguins +1700

Boston Bruins +1700

Columbus Blue Jackets: +1800

New York Islanders +2200

All betting odds aside, my top three choices for a Stanley Cup this season.

  1. Tampa Bay Lightning: Is there any need to get into much of a discussion about this? From line one to four they produce, their back end is strong with plenty of experience and mobility and the icing on the cake. A healthy, solid number one goalie, Andrei Vasilevskiy. The Lightning are 34-8-2 with 70 points, they lost a combination of 10 games all year and only EIGHT in regulation. With a +67 goal differential.
  2. Calgary Flames: In all honesty the Western Conference does not look to difficult this year. The Flames have played well in their division and if the season were to end today they would have to go through Minnesota, Vegas or San Jose then Nashville or Winnipeg. The Flames have been a great team on both sides of the puck if they can figure out their goaltending, between Mike Smith and David Rittich they are a top-pick for the West Conference finals. The Flames are 28-13-4 with 60 points but a point ahead of San Jose for the divisional lead.
  3. Winnipeg Jets: The Jets have to get through the Predators again one more time to get to the Conference finals and from there if you come out alive in the West it is a possibility. The Jets will need Connor Hellebuyck to wake up and play a big role in their success from here until June. The Jets will need to see Patrik Laine step up big time as well, along with more depth players and a solid game from their backend.

Those are my top-three choices for the Stanley Cup Champions 2018-2019, what are yours?

 

Advertisements

NHL Rankings; Lightning top the league, Columbus climbing, Nashville downfall

The 1st ranking period of the year! This is pretty simple, the best teams up to this point. But remember when doing these rankings, last weeks games and the last ten are factored into where each team stands. The record next to the teams names are their record in their last ten games. Next ranking period will be done January 20th. 

  1. Tampa Bay Lightning (9-0-1) 

  2. Toronto Maple Leafs (6-2-2)

  3. Winnipeg Jets (8-2-0)

  4. Calgary Flames (6-3-1) 

  5. Washington Capitals (7-3-0) 

  6. Columbus Blue Jackets (6-3-1) 

  7. Nashville Predators (4-5-1) 

  8. San Jose Sharks (6-2-2) 

  9. Buffalo Sabres (4-4-2) 

  10. Boston Bruins (6-4-0) 

Erik Cernak’s unexpected rise continues to provide depth on Tampa Bay’s blue line

Erik Cernak is here to stay, at least as it is now in Tampa Bay. Young defenseman was not even expected to play this season but he already played in 16 NHL games this year.

Coach Jon Cooper talked about him last weekend and expressed his surprise about the young Slovakian d-man’s rise. Cooper said, that based on the training camp, he did not expect Cernak to get NHL anytime soon. Yet he has played 20 games on a very high level.

Cernak was more than a solid substitute of right-handed veteran defenseman Anton Strålman. Strålman is an excellent defenseman with plenty of experience with the age of 32. Cernak played solid, collecting +8 rating and 5 assists.

If there is any injury doubt in the remainder of the season, Erik Cernak should be Tampa’s first choice replacement. But looking further than this year, Cernak might be a very reasonable solution for the Lightning.

Young defenseman a healthy solution

Coming next July, the Lightning will have approximately 12 million in their salary cap space to sign so many key weapons. Most importantly Brayden Point, but also trio of experienced veteran defencemen – Braydon Coburn, Anton Strålman and Dan Girardi.

AR-311139800
Everyone is pleased with Cernak in Tampa

You cannot resign all of these guys if you are the Bolts. And now you will have just three available defencemen signed – McDonagh, Hedman and Sergachev. And… Erik Cernak, still being under his entry-level contract.

I assume that the Lightning will give up on at least one of the three mentioned UFA-to be defencemen. If Tampa Bay needs one of those replaced immediately, here is 21-years old Slovakian D-man to play.

If Cernak is ready to play a full 82-game season for the Lightning, there should be no problem at all and he can be both effective and nice solution for the salary cap hell, which is coming to Tampa Bay starting next July.

NHL Eastern Conference Playoff Predictions; Metropolitan, Atlantic and Wild Card Teams…

This may be the year the Eastern Conference is officially weaker than the Western Conference. For years the Rangers, Canadiens and Islanders were top 15 teams in the NHL, but this year the Western Conference seems to be a little tougher and tighter in terms of the playoff race.

Taking a look at the Eastern Conference Metropolitan Division it is heavily dominated by three teams the Tampa Bay Lightning, Toronto Maple Leafs and Washington Capitals. It has been a major shock to the East that the Pittsburgh Penguins are a non playoff team right now as well as the Flyers being out of contention and struggling this season. Another big surprise is the Canadiens start, coming out now 35 games into the season and being in the second wild card spot and six points out from the three seed in the Atlantic.

The Atlantic division playoff teams 

The Buffalo Sabres are off to a surprising start, yet after going on their win streak, they dropped six straight and now are 3-4-3 in their last ten. Are we sure the Sabres are legitimate playoff contenders? Or will they be out of the race come March? Personally after seeing what the Sabres have done and are capable of, they can easily be a playoff team. Realistically they need to stay above .500 for the next month or so to stay in the race and when it continues to tighten up and get closer, they will pull a few games out of their back pocket and make a push. With that, I don’t think they stay #3 in the Atlantic though, the Bruins are five points behind and have yet to hit their full stride this season. If the Bruins get healthy soon, they will knock the Sabres out of three, but this means Bruins stay three and Leafs stay two it will be another Bruins vs Leafs first round match up. The Leafs are not catching the Lighting (54), the Lightning have essentially clinched first place and will have an easier first round than other teams. Out of the Atlantic I think we see Lightning (1), Leafs (2), Bruins (3), Sabres (4), Canadiens get bumped out of the playoffs by either the Penguins or Islanders. Which brings me to the second part of this article.

The weak Metropolitan playoff teams

The Metropolitan is extremely weak, of the four divisions in the NHL the Metropolitan is by far the weakest. The Capitals with 43 points lead the Metro, yet in any other division would be third in the division. The Metro is basically run by the Capitals who lead the division by just four points but I do not see the Capitals dropping out of that one spot. The Blue Jackets come in at number two (39 points) and they have been very inconsistent this season, they struggle to stay consistent and string together wins over multiple games and number three is the Islanders (38 points) who are on  three-game win streak and surprising a lot of people right now. Based off what we have in front of us right now, I would have to assume the Islanders get knocked out of three by the Penguins and top three in the Metropolitan are Capitals (1), Penguins (2), Blue Jackets (3), the Metro is so weak that the Penguins can start of the season below .500 and still be in contention for a playoff spot. Out of the Metro it will probably be Capitals (1), Penguins (2), Blue Jackets (3), Islanders (4).

Playoff prediction in the Eastern Conference: 

Tampa Bay Lightning (1) vs New York Islanders (WC2) 

Washington Capitals (1) vs Buffalo Sabres (WC1) 

Pittsburgh Penguins (2) vs Columbus Blue Jackets (3) 

Toronto Maple Leafs (2) vs Boston Bruins (3) 

NHL; Have to LOVE it as Milan Lucic sends a message to Mathieu Joseph

Ah, Milan Lucic, we thank you. Well some of us do, the league has not full blown soft as baby sh*t just yet. This is what some older fans love to see and the younger, non modernized, flashy goals, highlights every shift type of fans like to see also. Bravo to Lucic with how the league is nowadays this could result in a 15-game suspension. Have to give this cyborg some credit, sticking up for his team and sending a message to youngster Joseph that his actions have consequences. This happened because Joseph cross checked defenseman Kris Russell and got away with it, so he thought. Therefore Lucic took actions into his own hands and absolutely blindsided the young forward. Lucic did end up getting ejected from the game and not much has been said further about the situation and what will happen, but thank you Lucic.

Team Preview: Are the Tampa Bay Lightning ready to finally close on Cup final…

The Lightning had yet another successful season despite their 2016-17 missed playoff year and 5th place Atlantic division finish. The Lightning bounced back for a 1st place divisional finish and 3rd place NHL finish. Coming off a 54 win and 113 point season the Lightning, again failed to capitalize on the ultimate goal though. The Stanley Cup. This was the Lightning’s 3rd conference final loss in the last 8 years and fifth time failing to capitalize on a remarkable regular season in the last eight years.

Many times we have seen the Lightning miss their goal due to some injuries, like Steven Stamkos in the 2015-16 Cup run who many thought was the Lightning’s year and I am sure if you ask many fans around the league if Stamkos was healthy during that run it may have turned out differently for Tampa Bay.

Lightning offense able to lead Tampa to 1st place Atlantic finish again…

Heading into the 2018-19 year the Lighting are without Chris Kunitz and defenseman Andrej Sustr, nothing to really throw your arms in the air over as most of there core guys are still around and their young talent is still there. The Lightning have the Atlantic division at the palm of their hands, having to deal with Boston and Toronto, the Lightning should still be a sure favorite for the playoffs and another deep run.

Tampa Bay Lightning 2018-19 previewWith a line up of JT Miller, Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov on line one, off the bat you are looking at a top 10 first line pairing. If Miller can be consistent and continue to feed off Stamkos and Kucherov he is looking at an easy 60 plus point year. In Millers 19 games with Tampa Bay he tallied 18 points and in the playoffs he scored 8 points in 17 games. On line two the Lightning have Ondrej Palat, Brayden Point and Tyler Johnson, Point and Johnson combining for 106 points is already enough to supplement a solid second line, throw in Palat’s 35 points in 56 games, a player who can easily be a 50 point guy, the Lightning have a top 5 ranked second line in the league. Now a third line lacking some center depth with Anthony Cirelli but still with Alex Killron and Yanni Gourde the Lightning have three scoring lines right there.

They will be expecting some big numbers from Brayden Point and Yanni Gourde again as the two are coming off remarkable years, which with their production was a main reason the Lightning were so consistent throughout the year. This will be a big test for 3rd round 2015 draft pick Cirelli to step into the mix and secure his third line spot. In 18 games last year he tallied 11 points and in the playoffs he managed to make little bit of noise with 3 points.

Lightning need McDonagh to make a big step next season…

Tampa Bay Lighting Ryan McDonaghOn defenseman the Lightning have a Norris winning defenseman now in Victor Hedman, proving to be one of the most versatile and consistent defenseman in the NHL. Hedman is a sure fire 60 plus points year in and year out. The next step is getting Ryan McDonagh to the next level, and capable of bringing what the Lightning thought they were going to get when he first came over. McDonagh tallied 3 points in 14 games last year with Tampa and is coming off one of his worst years (29 points) since he emerged in the league. McDonagh when healthy is capable of 40 plus points but if he cannot stay healthy or find his groove on this Tampa Bay team it will cause some concern for Tampa fans and leave the Lightning missing that “one” piece they need to secure a Stanley Cup. Along with the meat and potatoes guys in the league Dan Girardi and Anton Stralman, two guys who you know what you are going to get from them and nothing more. Two solid defensive defenseman but as Girardi continues to age as well as Stralman this Tampa Bay defense has some concerns. Luckily with Vezina nominee goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy the Lightning have a sure number one goaltender, with Vasilevskiy coming off a 44 win season posting a 2.62 GAA and .920 save percentage with 8 shutouts the Lightning better hope he can continue to log 60 plus starts a year at a consistent rate. Last year was Vasilevskiy’s second full year as a starter but from 2016-17 to 2017-18 his minutes increased from 1,480 to 2,075 minutes a 595 minute difference his starting time increased from 47 games to 64 games a 17 game difference, point of the story is, he has seen a steady increase in numbers and when this happens we all know what occurs in the long run…

Predictions? 

I think the Lightning edge out the Bruins for the top spot and hold off the Leafs as well, they finish around the same point mark and win wise, perhaps a 112 point divisional win. The only concern with the Lightning here is if they face some injuries and go on a skid they have two of the best teams in the NHL right on their tail ready to take over the division. Still I see a division win from the Lightning, but perhaps that next step is not next season as they will fall short of the ultimate goal once again.

 

 

Tampa looks to even series in Washington

The Lighting came out a different team for game three, they won with comfort and now have a little more confidence and momentum going into game four. The thing with the playoffs this year too is that the road teams seem to have the advantage as road teams heading into tonight’s game are 8-2.

The Lighting came out a little better in game three, the Capitals certainly matched their play but thanks to some big saves by Andrei Vasilevskiy and a big time game from the Lightning’s big three they now have a chance to even this series at two heading home to Tampa for game five.

The Lighting will not have the same result on many things they did in game three as we can expect the Capitals to come out a bit better and possibly pop the first goal. The Capitals took 5 penalties which allowed the Lighting to score 2 times on those five chances, which as by the looks of things was the difference maker. Some keys for the Capitals heading into game four are…

Three Keys for Washington

(1) Score first. The Capitals have scored first in the first two games and when they do they seem to carry a lot of momentum and things just seem to go their way more often. Plus if you can score first and get the road team on their heels that is good news. It sounds harder than it is, but the Capitals really need to come out in the first and just put pucks deep and on net. When the Capitals had their fore-check going and they were turning around the Lighting’s defense they saw more offensive pressure and chances.

(2) Limit the Lightning’s power play chances. the only way the Lighting are winning if they score on the power play it seems as they have 7 of their 12 goals on the power play this series. Pretty obvious, so stay out of the box.

(3) Play simple early. To get a road team tired and on their heels early in the game is important. By chipping and chasing for the first 15 minutes of the first to tire out the Lightning’s defense will be huge. The Capitals need to utilize that third and fourth line more often and have them just go out, bang bodies and cause some havoc. Just keep the game simple and don’t give the Lighting much offensive room.

What Vegas is saying…

The line opened at -105 for Tampa Bay and -115 for Washington which means nothing, because that’s nonsense. But right now at the moment at (9:10 am EST) the line is Tampa +100 and Washington -120. Which essentially means there is no clear favorite so either or the books are saying, basically anyone can take this game. The over under is 5.5 goals which we have been seeing almost every game this series it has hit above 5.5. I think just taking the over/under is a solid choice. The books are tough right now because looking at 13 other sites it also saying Tampa to be around +100 to +105 most and Washington to be -110 to -120 most. The books are saying there is no favorite basically so this is a tough one. Clearly this will change as the day goes on and bets come in for either team, but right now stay put and don’t do anything. As of now it is 58 percent Tampa Bay and 64 percent Washington in terms of bets already made.