The defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning will look to get their 2021 title defense off to a positive start when they host the Chicago Blackhawks in Wednesday night’s online betting action.
Tampa Bay is looking to become the league’s first repeat champions since Pittsburgh pulled off the feat in 2016 and 2017. Chicago would like to get back to being a legitimate Stanley Cup contender after winning three titles between 2010 and 2015.
Chicago at Tampa Bay Betting Analysis
When: Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021 at 8:05 PM ET
NHL Odds: Tampa Bay -1½
Moneyline: Chicago +210/Tampa Bay -250
Blackhawks Looking to Bounce Back!
The Blackhawks weren’t awful last season, but they certainly weren’t Stanley Cup contenders either. Chicago went 32-30-4 last season to finish last in the Central Division and 12th in the Western Conference standings with 72 points. The Blackhawks then upset Edmonton 3-1 in the qualification to round before getting dispatched by top-seeded Vegas in five games in the first round.
Chicago finished the 2019-20 campaign ranked 18th in scoring (3.0 gpg), 13th in shots attempts per game (31.8), 28th in power play percentage (15.2) and 17th in faceoff percentage (49.9). Defensively, the Blackhawks finished 16th in goals allowed (3.1 gpg), a dismal 31st in shots allowed per game (35.1), ninth in penalty killing (82.1) and 23rd in shutouts (5).
Tampa Bay Looks To Repeat!
Tampa Bay went 43-21-6 last season to finish second to Boston in the Atlantic Division and second overall in the Eastern Conference standings with 92 points. The Lightning then got the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs by going 2-1 in the four-team round robin series.
Tampa Bay dispatched Columbus in the first round and Boston in the conference semifinals before taking out the New York Islanders in six games in the Eastern Conference Finals. The Lightning capped off their 2019-20 season by beating Dallas in six games in the Stanley Cup Finals.
Tampa Bay led the NHL in scoring last season (3.5 gpg) while ranking 19th in shot attempts per game (31.1), fifth in power play percentage (23.2) and 11th in faceoff percentage (50.5). Defensively, the Lightning finished eight in goals allowed (2.8 gpg), 12th in shots attempts allowed per game (30.9), 14th in penalty killing (81.4) and first in shutouts with a mind-boggling zero.
Expert Breakdown & Prediction
After parting ways with longtime net-minder Corey Crawford, Chicago enters the new season with question marks at the goalie position. The Blackhawks will go with a trio of goalies that includes Collin Delia, Kevin Lankinen or Malcolm Subban, with Subban being the most experienced of the bunch.
The Lightning have recorded winning records in seven straight seasons while racking up 50 victories three times during the span and a franchise-record 62 victories in 2018-19. I mentioned all of that simply to point out just how elite Tampa Bay has been over the last several seasons.
The Lightning have more regular season wins, playoff wins and more goals scored than any other team in the league over the last six seasons. Tampa Bay has been in the Eastern Conference Finals in four of the last six years and the Stanley Cup Finals twice.
More importantly, Tampa Bay is back almost fully intact from last season. Chicago is in the midst of a rebuild that will take at least another season or two for the Blackhawks to become legitimate Stanley Cup contenders.
Chicago is 0-4 in its last four road games while Tampa Bay has gone an insane 44-17 in its last 61 games and 100-45 in its last 145 games as a home favorite.
With a big question mark in net, and Jonathan Toews out of the lineup for the foreseeable future, Chicago doesn’t stand a chance to pull off the upset. Tampa Bay wins this mid-week matchup by at least two goals!