The Tampa Bay Lightning look add to their impressive point total so far on the season. The Bolts play three games in four days but then they have three nights off. They start the week with two back-to-back games on the road against the Columbus Blue Jackets and Philadelphia Flyers. They’ll end the week at home with a divisional game against the Buffalo Sabres at home.

1) Monday, Feb. 18 @ Blue Jackets- 7:30 p.m. ET -NBCSN

The Bolts will be taking on a Columbus Blue Jackets team who has been struggling to find some wins lately. The Bolts have the advantage in almost every category. The two teams are pretty even when it comes to the penalty kill with the Lightning being the second best team in the NHL and the Blue Jackets ranked fourth in the League. The Blue Jackets and Bolts have defensemen who can add something to the offense.

The Lightning Win If…

They can manage to get plenty of pucks to the opposition’s net with traffic. The Blue Jackets allow just over 30 shots against per game to the opposition so the Lightning need to make sure that when the shot is open they get it to the net. The Blue Jackets’ goalies can stop pucks, but they have also struggled with letting in soft goals this season. The Bolts should make sure they take the goalie’s eyes away and get plenty of traffic in front to distract the starting goalie.

Matchup of the Game

This game has a good chance of being stolen by one of the goalies. The teams manage to get their chances and will spend some time on the attack. The Lightning and Blue Jackets have some defensemen that can join in on the offensive side of the puck so both teams should pay attention to where everyone is on the ice at all times. The goalie matchup will be especially interesting if it winds up being Andrei Vasilevskiy and Sergei Bobrovsky since both goalies can steal a game.

Game Prediction

The Lightning manage to pull out the win by a score of 4-2 on national television while the Blue Jackets continue to struggle. The Lightning goals are scored by Onderj Palat, Alex Killorn, Victor Hedman and Tyler Johnson. The Blue Jackets two goals come from Artemi Panarin and Cam Atkinson.

2) Tuesday, Feb. 19 @ Flyers- 7 p.m. ET

The Philadelphia Flyers are one of the hottest teams in the NHL and are 12-1-1 in their last 14 games as they work to get back in the playoff race. The Lightning are a much better team than the Flyers, but they’ve struggled against them this season. The Lightning have blown three-goal and four-goal leads in the third period.

The Lightning Will Win If…

They just play their game and don’t play down to the opposition. The Flyers are battling for playoff positioning and this is an important week for them before the trade deadline on February 25. The Lightning are such a balanced team and they need to roll out four lines and spend some time in the offensive zone. They will want to get plenty of shots on net and try to get the goalie moving so he can’t be set or in position to stop the puck.

Matchup of the Game

The two main players to watch in this game will be Sean Couturier and Nikita Kucherov. Kucherov is leading the League with 94 points, while Couturier has been one of the Flyers hotter players the past few weeks. Couturier is also the Flyers’ best defensive center and will likely either be matched up against the Steven Stamkos line or Kucherov’s line. Couturier got off to a slow start in the beginning of the season, but has really picked up his play the past few weeks and is looking like he could be up for another Selke Trophy nomination.

Game Prediction

The Flyers lose this game 5-4 in overtime, but pick up one point in the standings. The Lightning goals come from Brayden Point (2), Yanni Gourde, Anthony Cirelli and J.T. Miller. The Flyers goals are scored by Claude Giroux, Shayne Gostisbehere, James van Riemsdyk and Nolan Patrick.

3) Thursday, Feb. 21 vs. Sabres- 7:30 p.m. ET

The Buffalo Sabres have been struggling and are now looking behind them as teams are creeping into the playoff picture that weren’t there about a month ago. The big line of Jeff Skinner, Jack Eichel and Sam Reinhart was broken up for a few games but with the recent struggles, they have been put back together. The Lightning has a balanced lineup, but a bulk of the Sabres offense comes from that top line.

The Lightning Will Win If…

They can roll four lines and create chances from all four of them. The Lightning should try to get plenty of pucks on net because the goaltending hasn’t been spectacular for the Sabres lately. The Bolts have depth scoring and they need to show up in this game. The Sabres’ top line can be stopped and that will be the primary focus of the Lightning.

Matchup of the Game

The Sabres lack depth scoring while the Lightning have a ton of it. It will be interesting to see if the Sabres depth scoring can come through in such a big game with them slipping in the standings. The Sabres depth is tested almost nightly with the big three being on the top line and it worked out well the first half of the season, but hasn’t been working out well since. It is just a matter of finding the right combination of players to play with each other so that depth scoring starts getting it done.

Game Prediction

The Lightning manage to lose a close one in overtime since they’ll be finishing up playing three games in four days. The Sabres top line get its done again and scores all three goals with two coming from Jeff Skinner and one from San Reinhart. The Lightning goals come from Steven Stamkos (2).



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