Tampa Bay Lightning at Florida Panthers
The all-Sunshine State might not carry too much prestige but something could really develop as both are young teams on the up. While Tampa Bay are a little further along the line it would be huge for Florida to make the playoffs this year, they've already made some bold moves towards that end ahead of tomorrow's trade deadline. Jaromir Jagr might have gone without a point on his debut but the Panthers were still inspired to a 5-3 victory over Buffalo. Dany Heatley is also in for Tomas Fleischmann Offence has been the weakest part of their game all year so a continuation of that would be huge for them. I'm not sure they'll have enough to live with the biggest scorers in the NHL though and it's confirmed that goalie Al Montoya will start the game, he's only won four games all year.
The Lightning humbled Chicago 4-0 last time out but haven't quite been able to match Montreal's pace at the top of the Atlantic. That's not to say they're in bad form and they've steadily been improving their road record by finding how to strike the right balance between their clearly potent offence. With the Panthers playing on consecutive nights and starting their backup I think 2.15 is a fair price on a Tampa Bay victory.
St. Louis Blues at Vancouver Canucks
Bouncing back from a poor loss to Buffalo is high on Vancouver's agenda, it was such a strange one for them after winning six of eight games before then. In fact they're returning home from a road trip during which they beat three sides above them in the table and lost to the two below. The Blues just about got by Edmonton yesterday thanks to a late goal from Paul Stastny, having a player of his quality down on the third line is a real luxury of their depth.
On the whole though their attack has stuttered on an average of two goals over the previous seven tilts so the last couple of weeks haven't been particularly successful for St. Louis. The Canucks' defence has been fairly injury disrupted all year, not long after Dan Hamhuis came back did they lose Alex Edler and Chris Tanev who remain unavailable. Again I like the way Vancouver coach Willie Desjardins has set his forward lines up so that each can hurt the opposition. I don't see enough in this one and the almost identical odds agree, back the tie at 3.70.
Best Bet: Tampa Bay Lightning to win at 2.15.