Chicago Blackhawks at Tampa Bay Lightning

 

Image licensed from USA Today Sports

The Chicago Blackhawks will travel to Amalie Arena on Wednesday night to take on the Tampa Bay Lightning to start the 2021 season. The Blackhawks finished last season 32-30-8 (72 points) and upset the Edmonton Oilers in a best-of-five series 3-1 to be the eighth seed in the Western Conference. They went up against the Vegas Golden Knights in the Western Conference Quarterfinals and lost in five games. The Lightning finished last season 43-21-6 (92 points) and ended up winning the Stanley Cup against the Dallas Stars 4-2. Trying to repeat as champions is the hardest thing to do in sports but the road starts now.

These teams could use this game to get to know one another as they are set to face off eight times during the season. Let’s take a deeper dive into the matchup and figure out if we should be placing our wagers on the Blackhawks or the Lightning to start the season with a win.

Stars Need to Shine

Right wing Patrick Kane led the Chicago Blackhawks on the offensive side of the ice last season as he finished with 70 games, 33 goals, 51 assists, and 84 points. He led all the Blackhawks in goals, assists, and points as he did not show any signs of slowing up in his 13th season in the NHL. In two games last year against the Lightning, Kane finished with just one assist. It seemed as if Tampa Bay figured out how to defend him and make him a non-factor so it’ll be interesting if Kane can counterpunch here.

The Tampa Bay Lightning were good on the defensive side of the ice last season as they gave up 2.77 goals per game, which ranked tied for 7th in the league. In their pair of games against each other last year, the Lightning allowed seven goals (3.5 per game) on 61 shots (30.5 per game) and managed to split the season series a game apiece. They will need to improve their defensive sets if they want to get closer to their season average.

Return to Stardom?

The Tampa Bay Lightning will need to depend on center Steven Stamkos even more this season with the injuries surrounding the team. On the offensive side of the ice last season as he finished with 57 games, 29 goals, 37 assists, and 66 points. All his counting stats were down last season due to injuries and having more of a priority in the lineup can help him get going. He played in just one last year against the Blackhawks and Stamkos failed to record any points. If he can be more of a scoring threat with the puck, it’ll help the Tampa Bay offense get going.

The Chicago Blackhawks were giving up a good amount of goals last season as they gave up 3.06 goals per game, which ranked tied for 16th in the league. In their two games against each other last year, the Blackhawks allowed six goals (three per game) on 73 shots (36.5 per game) and managed to win one of two games from the eventual Stanley Cup Champs. They will need to figure out how they can repeat this performance if they want to be successful.

The Bottom Line
What to bet on this game.

Full-Game Side Bet
Rating:
 

The Blackhawks are the weaker team so I don’t think they will be able to go into Tampa and pull off a win. The emotions will be high as they get their championship rings but it won’t be enough to pull off the upset. Chicago has struggled on the road and as an underdog while Tampa has been impressive as a home favorite. Go with the defending champs to open the year with a win here.

Prediction:
Tampa Bay -250

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Full-Game Total Pick
Rating:
 

Tampa has been the most prolific offense in the last year as they scored 3.47 goals per game while Chicago scored 2.97 goals per game. The lack of preseason games should mean there will be high scoring games to begin the season. The over has hit in four of the last five road games for Chicago and is 7-1-3 for Tampa Bay when facing Western Conference opponents. Go with the OVER in this game.

Prediction:
OVER 6.5