Lightning: 62-16-4, 128 points, first in Atlantic, Presidents’ Trophy Winners.
The Tampa Bay Lightning are coming into the Stanley Cup Playoffs as one of the most dominant regular season teams in NHL history. This year they have three 40-goal scorers (Steven Stamkos, Brayden Point, Nikita Kucherov). Kucherov’s 128 point season makes him the favorite to win the Hart Trophy (NHL MVP).
Andrei Vasilevskiy will start in net tonight. The Vezina Trophy (top goaltender) candidate led the league in wins (39) and save percentage (.925), among goalies that played at least 50 games. Their power play is the best in the league (28.2 percent) and was tied second in the penalty kill (85 percent). The impressive numbers from the Lightning don’t matter anymore as they play their first playoff game. Their ability to score goals and dominate the game is what they need to continue doing in the playoffs if they want to win it all.
Blue Jackets: 47-31-4, 98 points, fifth in Metropolitan, second wild card in Eastern Conference.
The Columbus Blue Jackets bolstered their lineup by gaining Matt Duchene, Ryan Dzingel and Adam McQuaid before the trade deadline. Artemi Panarin and Sergei Bobrovsky are likely to become unrestricted free agents this summer. The front office kept both Russians during the trade deadline hoping to have a deep playoff run. They will start their playoffs against the NHL-best Lightning.
The Blue Jackets have a shot if they avoid the penalty box and strong goaltending from Bobrovsky. They need their top forward lines to step up and score on any opportunity they can. In the last seven games, Bobrovsky went 6-1-0 with a 1.50 GAA, .947 save percentage and three shutouts. These hot numbers are a great way to enter the playoffs.
Norris Trophy winner, Victor Hedman, will return to tonight’s lineup after missing the last four games with an upper-body injury.
— Tampa Bay Lightning (@TBLightning) April 9, 2019
Defenseman Ryan Murray will be out with an upper-body injury. He missed the last 24 games.
Defenseman Adam McQuaid is questionable after missing the last five games with an upper-body injury.
Game: Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Columbus Blue Jackets– Game 1
Venue: Amalie Arena
Location: Tampa, Florida
Date: Wednesday, April 10, 2019
Start Time: 7:00 p.m. EST
TV Info: FOX Sports Sun, USA, SN360, TVA Sports.
Lightning projected lineup
Blue Jackets projected lineup
Featured Image Credit to The Hockey News
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