Two struggling squads clash in Canada
Collectively, the Canucks have no delusions of playoff grandeur. What happened at Carolina on Wednesday night, however, was enough to shake even the most idealistic fan’s confidence.
Taking a 5-2 lead into the third period, Vancouver proceeded to squander everything. Veteran goalies Ryan Miller and Jacob Markstrom surrendered five unanswered tallies. Ultimately, the Hurricanes stormed back for an 8-6 win and sent Willie Desjardins’ group to its fourth loss in five games.
Thankfully, the Canucks’ (12-16-2) return to Rogers Arena brings an equally despondent foe. Tampa Bay, which carried legitimate Stanley Cup aspirations as recently as several months ago, visits British Columbia this evening. Online sports book Bovada.lv gives Jon Cooper’s troops odds of -130 to emerge victorious. The hosts, on the other hand, represent +110 underdogs.
Without Steven Stamkos, the Lightning (15-13-2) simply can’t generate enough offense on a regular basis. They’ve only prevailed twice since Nov. 25. Normally stout netminder Ben Bishop isn’t immune to the suffering, either, having permitted at least four goals in three of his last seven appearances.
It’s obviously difficult to get a read on either club right now. Still, Tampa Bay’s roster clearly features more talent. We’ll count on Bishop to steer the Lightning toward triumph No. 9 away from Amalie Arena.
FRIDAY NHL FREE PICK: LIGHTNING/CANUCKS UNDER 5 GOALS