Thursday evening National Hockey league action and the Central Division will square off with the Atlantic Division as the Colorado Avalanche take on the Tampa Bay Lightning at Amalie Arena in Tampa, Florida. The Avs check in off a 4-2 home loss to the Sabres, while the Lightning are off a 6-2 home win over the Islanders. Goalie Probables: the Avs will be sending out Semyon Varlamov and the Lightning will counter with Andrei Vasilevskiy.
Avs Are Following Last Year’s Pattern
The Colorado Avalanche had the worst record in the league last year at 22-60, despite the fact that they started out at 9-9 on the year. This year is starting to look like last year as they started out at 8-5, but have since gone 4-9 in their last 13 games to fall to last place in the Central Division and they could very well stay there for the rest of the season. The big problem for them last year was their offense and they have now put up just 12 goals in their last six games. They come into this game off a bad 4-2 home loss to a Buffalo team that has really been struggling of late, and that loss may show more than anything how much they are struggling right now. Scoring in the loss was Nathan MacKinnon, who notched both goals for the Avs and now has 10 on the year. Colorado has gone 4-8 on the road. Taking the loss against the Sabres was Semyon Varlamov, who allowed three goals on 31 shot attempts to fall to 8-7 with a 3.09 GAA and a .905 save percentage on the year overall, while out on the road he has gone 3-4 with a 3.40 GAA and a .890 save percentage. In his career, he has gone 75-89 with a 2.89 GAA on the road and 72-57 with a 2.57 GAA against the Eastern Conference, while against the Lightning in his career he has gone 9-5 with a 2.15 GAA.
Colorado has been solid on offense so far as they come in ranked 8th in the league in scoring at 3.08 gpg, while also ranking 28th in shots taken (29.5 spg) and 15th in power play conversions, converting on 20.0% of their chances. At the defensive end of the ice, have been below average so far as they come in ranked 25th in goals allowed, giving up 3.27 gpg, while also ranking 14th in shots allowed (31.6 spg) and 19th in penalty kill, allowing teams to convert on 20.8% of their chances.
Bolts Strike Down Hot Islanders
After a slow start, the New York Islanders have been playing very well, but the Bolts have the most points in the league and they showed that they are the best team right now in their 6-2 win over the Islanders on Tuesday night. The Bolts have now won three of their last four games and they are a strong 11-3 here at home for the year. They have a great offense and have been getting very solid play in the crease and that makes them a tough team to beat anytime they take the ice. Yanni Gourde led the attack against the isles by scoring twice, including the one that put the Bolts ahead for good. He now has eight on the year. Also scoring in the win was Brayden Point (10th), Andrej Sustr (2nd), Vladislav Namestnikov (11th) and Chris Kunitz (4th). Snatching up the win against the Islanders was Andrei Vasilevskiy, who stopped 29 of the 31 shots that he faced in the game to improve to 18-5 with a 2.21 GAA and a .932 save percentage on the year overall, including 11-2 with a 2.35 GAA and a .924 save percentage here at home. In his career, he has gone 35-18 with a 2.58 GAA in his home games and 17-13 with a 2.70 GAA against the Western Conference, while against the Avs he has gone 0-1 with a 5.16 GAA in one start.
Tampa Bay comes in ranked 1st in the league in scoring at 3.70 gpg, while also ranking 10th in shots taken (32.3 spg) and 1st in power play conversions, converting on 28.7% of their chances. At the defensive end of the ice, they have been very solid so far as they come in ranked 4th in goals allowed, giving up just 2.54 gpg, while also ranking 18th in shots allowed (32.2 spg) and 12th in penalty kill, allowing teams to convert on 18.2% of their chances.
- 11-27 in their last 38 vs. a team with a winning record
- 11-40 in their last 51 games playing on one days rest
Tampa Bay is:
- 22-7 in their last 29 when their opponent scores two goals or less in their previous game
- 7-0 their last seven games against the Central Division
The Avs had a very nice start to their year as they were looking to erase the memories of last year’s team that won just 22 games. They have 12 wins on the year right now, but they are still struggling at the moment as they have lost five of their last six games and they have scored a total of 12 goals over that stretch. The Lightning have one of the best offenses in the league and they have been very strong at home for the year so far. I just can’t see the Avs taking this one and I also can’t see their offense putting up enough to keep this game close against the high-flying Lightning. Take the Bolts on the puckline in this one.