The Tampa Bay Lightning have been a joy to watch so far this year. Having already scored over 100 goals in just 28 National Hockey League games, the Atlantic Division leaders are up there with the strongest and most dangerous teams in ice hockey.
Currently in the middle of a three match winning run, the Lightning are well placed to push on and challenge for the Stanley Cup this year and are currently 7/1 favourites with Bet365 to win it. Tampa have won hockey’s ultimate prize just once back in 2004 but it would take a brave man to back against the Lightning this time around.
Meanwhile, the Winnipeg Jets are no slouches either and this could be a modern classic if both teams perform at their brilliant best. Currently sitting third in the Central Division, the Jets are also up there and competitive in the race for the postseason.
Back to back defeats in recent fixtures have dampened the mood a little at Bell MTS Place but if anyone is capable of bouncing back, it is Winnipeg. Don’t write the Canadian side off just yet, there is still a long way to go before the business end of the campaign.
Key For Tampa Is Maintaining Momentum
With just six defeats inside regulation, Tampa are proving very difficult to beat and fans will be hoping that the Lightning can continue to inspire confidence throughout the rest of the 2017/18 campaign. Their offense has been blistering but it would be foolish to ignore the contributions of their defensive unit – Tampa have conceded just 71 goals so far this year.
Comparatively, just two of their NHL rivals have allowed fewer and that shows how strong this defence is. The Lightning aren’t necessarily going to shut up shop every week but the option is there for the Atlantic Division outfit if needs be.
DANGER MAN: Steven Stamkos. Arguably the player of the season so far, Stamkos is top of the points scoring charts – although he is now just one point clear of Tampa Bay teammate Nikita Kucherov.
With 12 goals and 29 assists in just 28 league games, Stamkos has been an elite talent for the Lightning this year and both he and Kucherov can make the difference for the remainder of the campaign.
Winnipeg Heading In The Right Direction
Slow and steady wins the race. This 82-game regular season is a marathon, not a sprint and Winnipeg will be quietly confident of featuring prominently at the business end of the 17/18 campaign. The Jets are certainly capable of going all the way to the Stanley Cup finals…
With 99 goals of their own, Winnipeg are also mean on offense and a goal fest looks likely this weekend. Having won just five of their last 10 games, the Jets need to put a run of form together as they look to send out a statement of intent.
DANGER MAN: Patrik Laine. The 19-year-old, drafted second overall in the 2016 NHL draft, has notched 25 points in 29 appearances so far this season. Although not quite as prolific as Stamkos for Tampa, Laine’s contributions are impressive given his youth.
He is certainly performing at a level beyond his experience but Laine has always possessed the talent to succeed on the big stage. With four goals and four assists in his last four games, he is in fantastic form and could be a pivotal figure in this contest.
Take your pick. A tricky one to call but Tampa Bay might have enough to shade this one. The Jets are struggling for consistency and the odd error here and there could cost them dearly in their pursuit of postseason glory. Look no further than Stamkos and co – they look well priced to win this contest and should win many more throughout the year.
LIGHTNING 5-3 JETS