The Vancouver Canucks are coming off their first regulation loss under head coach Bruce Boudreau. After a physical and gruelling battle against the superior Florida Panthers which ended in a 5-2 defeat, Vancouver will face another tough challenge down in the Sunshine State when they oppose the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday night.
Despite the loss against Florida, spirits will remain high within Vancouver’s squad after they’ve taken 17 of a possible 20 points under new leadership. The long ten day hiatus between games contributed to the Canucks defeat on Tuesday, and with some of the rust being knocked off during that game, expect a sharper performance in Tampa.
Now 16-16-3 on the season, Vancouver remains 7th in the Pacific Division with 35 points through 35 games. Despite only sitting six points out of the second wildcard position in the Western Conference, it’s critical that the Canucks ‘steal’ some valuable points on this difficult road trip to ensure they remain afloat in the playoff race.
Vancouver’s opponent on Thursday, the Tampa Bay Lightning, are the back-to-back Stanley Cup champions and look well on their way to being a serious threat again in the Eastern Conference.
The Lightning are led by one of the league’s best coaches in Jon Cooper, and roster some of the best players in the world such as Nikita Kucherov, Brayden Point, and Victor Hedman. They currently sit second place in the Atlantic Division with a record of 24-9-5.
Despite their dominance over the last few seasons, the Lightning sit middle of the pack in most major statistical categories this year, but are one the best shooting teams in the league as they hold an 11% shot-to-goal ratio, good for second in the league.
We should get one of the better goaltending matchups across the entire NHL on Thursday night, as two of the best goaltenders in the world, Andrei Vasilevskiy and Thatcher Demko should be between the pipes in Amalie Arena.
The odds for Thursday’s matchup in Tampa are courtesy of WynnBET Sportsbook, the official betting partner of FanSided.