The Tampa Bay Lightning begin the defense of their Stanley Cup championship on Wednesday, Jan 13 against the Chicago Blackhawks. Online sports betting now begins its transition from the gridiron to the frozen pond, so break the ice with BetUS. Our sportsbook makes NHL betting easy and fun. Lace up before the puck drops!
Chicago Blackhawks (0-0) at Tampa Bay Lightning (0-0)
Wednesday, Jan 13 at 8:00pm EST on NBCSN
Amalie Arena- Tampa, FL
NHL Betting Vitals
Puck Line: Lightning -1 ½
Money Line: Lightning -250, Blackhawks +210
Goal Totals: 6 ½
Lightning Still Electric, Even Without Kucherov
Tampa Bay will be without it’s top scorer, RW Nikita Kucherov, for the entire regular season following hip surgery. The Lightning hope Kucherov can return in time for the first round of the NHL playoffs. Fortunately for the Bolts, they have a great deal of firepower and talent beyond their superstar Kucherov.
Tampa Bay’s quest for back-to-back Stanley Cup titles is in the hands of players like Brayden Point and Steve Stamkos. Point and Stamkos combined for 54 goals and 76 assists in the Bolts’ previous campaign, despite missing time. The Lightning can also lean on star goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy, who won the Vezina Trophy in 2019 and was a finalist last year.
NHL division realignment has Lightning striking the Central, and the rebuilding Blackhawks are stuck in the middle with them. The Bolts are favored to win the Central Division, and currently have the second best Stanley Cup odds. The only team to win back-to-back Cups since the expansion era began is the 2016-17 Pittsburgh Penguins.
An Open Letter to Blackhawks Fans
Despite being the youngest team to make the NHL playoffs last season, the Chicago Blackhawks have tempered expectations. The Hawks parted ways with two fan favorites, goalie Corey Crawford and forward Brandon Saad, marking the end of an era. Chicago is clearly focused on developing it’s core of young players in the hopes of future dominance. The Blackhawks organization said as much in this open letter to the fans:
A message to Blackhawks fans. pic.twitter.com/7wBXrJPDQ1
— Chicago Blackhawks (@NHLBlackhawks) October 20, 2020
Chicago still has feisty RW Patrick Kane and veteran defenseman Duncan Keith, so the Hawks will definitely be competitive. It’ll be interesting to see how the younger players gel moving forward in the stacked Central Division. Only four teams in each division are eligible to reach the postseason, and it’s a slippery slope for Chicago. Teams like Tampa Bay, Carolina, Dallas, Nashville, and Columbus are a tough crowd to rise above.
Last season, the Blackhawks made the postseason but were bounced from Round 1 in five games by the Golden Knights. Getting the playoff experience is extremely valuable, but Chicago still has a lot of work to do. Expect the Lightning to scorch the Blackhawks on opening night, fired up after the Cup unveiling ceremony. Bolts 4, Hawks 1
Free NHL Pick ATS: Tampa Bay Lightning -1 ½
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