Lightning 'assert themselves' in win over Flames
The Tampa Bay Lightning are the eighth team in NHL history to win the Stanley Cup in back-to-back seasons.
There are only three NHL franchises that have raised the Cup in three or more consecutive seasons, something that hasn’t happened since the New York Islanders won four in a row from 1980-83.
Tampa Bay can become the first team in nearly four decades to accomplish that feat by winning it all again this season.
Despite several significant injuries, the Lightning lead the entire NHL with 51 points through 36 games.
On Thursday night, they reminded us all just how dangerous they can be with their full lineup.
Here’s the TSN EDGE Morning Coffee for Friday, Jan. 7, 2022.
Kucherov shines in return
After missing 32 games with a lower-body injury, Nikita Kucherov picked up right where he left off as he returned with two assists in a 4-1 win over the Calgary Flames on Thursday night.
With Tampa Bay leading 1-0 in the third period, Kucherov set up Brayden Point’s 12th goal of the season with a vintage primary assist.
Seven minutes later, Kucherov set up Ondrej Palat’s 13th goal of the year to extend the Lightning’s lead to 3-0.
Kucherov to record over 1.5 points cashed at +155.
Tampa Bay won outright as a -180 money line favourite and covered on the puck line.
While Kucherov and the offence went to work, Andrei Vasilevskiy stood tall again with 26 saves to keep the total under six goals.
While the Kucherov, Point, Palat line accounted for two goals, a second line made up of Steven Stamkos, Alex Killorn and Anthony Cirelli also got on the score sheet when Killorn made it 4-0 with his 11th goal of the season.
With all the firepower on their top two lines, it might have come as a surprise to some that it was Corey Perry who opened the scoring with his 10th of the year, skating on the third line with Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and Patrick Maroon.
With so much skill up front and on the blueline, and Vasilevskiy once again showing why he is the best goaltender in the NHL, the Lightning are once again a Stanley Cup contender.
The fact that they lead the league with 52 points despite lengthy absences from Kucherov and Point is a testament to their talent and depth.
Tampa Bay has all the pieces in place to make another Stanley Cup run, especially if they can stay healthy when it matters the most and Vasilevskiy can continue to perform at an elite level.
As of this morning, the Lightning are the third choice to win the Cup at +800.
The Colorado Avalanche (+550) and Vegas Golden Knights (+750) are the only teams with shorter odds.
Meanwhile, despite finding a way to the top of the NHL standings largely without Kucherov and Point, Tampa Bay is the fourth choice to win the Presidents’ Trophy at +700.
The Avalanche are the Presidents’ Trophy favourite at +330. The Carolina Hurricanes (+550) and Florida Panthers (+650) are the other two teams with shorter odds.
The Lightning are also +400 to win the Eastern Conference.
I get how difficult it will be for Tampa Bay just to make it all the way back to the Stanley Cup Final for a third year in a row.
However, I still think 4-to-1 odds is pretty good value for a team that is still the class of the Eastern Conference.
Maybe the Lightning have been flying under the radar a little bit without Kucherov and Point in their lineup, but I’m not sure we see a better price for Tampa Bay to win the Eastern Conference the rest of the season, barring some significant losses.
NHL favourites deliver again
If you’ve read this column or follow TSN EDGE on Twitter, then you know that NHL favourites have been absolutely on fire since the league resumed play on Dec. 28.
That trend continued Thursday night, as favourites went 7-3 straight up.
The Minnesota Wild were one of three teams that pulled off an upset, beating the Boston Bruins as a +140 underdog.
Matthew Boldy, who is a native of Milford, Mass., scored against his hometown team in his NHL debut.
The Dallas Stars (+115) beat the Florida Panthers 6-5 in a shootout, while the Arizona Coyotes (+135) beat the Chicago Blackhawks 6-4 in another high-scoring affair.
Nathan MacKinnon registered a goal and four assists as the Colorado Avalanche (-250) beat the Winnipeg Jets 7-1.
That line of MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen and Gabriel Landeskog combined for 12 points in the win.
Meanwhile, Nazem Kadri scored and is up to 42 points in 27 games. Kadri currently sits fifth in the NHL scoring race.
Finally, the Pittsburgh Penguins (-240) extended their win streak to 10 in a row with a 6-2 win over the Philadelphia Flyers.
The Penguins are the first NHL team to post a double-digit win streak this season.
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