NHL Game of the Week: Blackhawks at Lightning Preview

NHL Game of the Week

The game of the week in the NHL is the Chicago Blackhawks traveling down to Tampa Bay, Florida, to take on the Lightning at 4:00 pm EST on Saturday, March 20th.

Tampa Bay Lightning

The Lightning picked up right where they left off after winning the Stanley Cup. They currently sit at first in the central division with an overall record of 21-6-2, that’s good for 44 points.

The Lightning have everything a team could possibly want, a superstar forward, a gritty, lethal veteran defenseman, and the best goalie in the entire league, and that’s why they have the most points in the entire league as well. The superstar forward in question is Steven Stamkos, he’s been their rock for years, but they needed him more this season with other star forward Nikita Kucherov out for the season.

Stamkos has stepped up to the tune of a team-leading 14 goals and third on the team with 14 assists and good for again, team-leading 28 points. The defenseman I mentioned is none other than Victor Hedman; their 10-year veteran is playing like he’s 25 again this season. Hedman has a team-leading 23 assists and eight goals, and a +/- of +9 as a defenseman this season.

Last but not least, the best goalie in the entire NHL is easily Andrei Vaselevskiy. “Vas” as I refer to him, has a league-leading record of 19 wins and four losses with a league-leading .93 save percentage and league-leading 1.9 goals-against average. All of those pieces are part of the reason the Lightning have been so successful this season.

Chicago Blackhawks

The Blackhawks, on the other hand, have had kind of a down year as they currently sit with an overall record of 14-12-5, good for fourth in the central division with a total of 33 points.

The Blackhawks’ struggles this season is due to a multitude of things but, most importantly, the inconsistent play of all of their goaltenders, specifically Malcolm Subban and Kevin Lankinen. Subban is posting a record of 4-4 to go along with a 3.2 goals-against average with a .90 save percentage. Lankinen has an overall record of 10-11 with a .91 save percentage and 2.8 goals-against average.

Verdict

The difference between the two is night and day, and unless they get some consistency from the all-important backup Subban, this team will continue to struggle because Lankinen can’t physically play every night.

The Lightning hold a 5-1 season series lead over the Blackhawks, and in four of those five wins, the Lightning have covered a 1.5 puck line spread, and that’s the same case for today’s game. The Lightning are favored by 1.5 goals again, and I don’t see them covering, but I do see them winning this game.

Catch the NHL game of the week between the Chicago Blackhawks and the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday evening between all the March Madness at 4:00 pm EST on NHL.TV or your local Tampa Bay and Chicago NBC Sports channel.