Tampa Bay Lightning at Arizona Coyotes Preview and Game Day Thread

The Lightning make their first visit to The Mullet

Tampa Bay Lightning at Arizona Coyotes:  GAME #54

Time: 9:00 pm Eastern Time

Location: Mullett Arena

Broadcast/Streaming: BSSUNX, BSAZ, ESPN+, HULU

Opponent SBNation Site: Five for Howling

DraftKings Line: Lightning -1.5 O/U 6.5

There was a time when a friend of mine was considering the two of us put together a gambling podcast that focused on the NHL. Because that’s what the world needs, two more middle-aged guys podcasting about gambling right? We had gotten so far as to figuring out strategies for gambling, tracking games and trends (spreadsheets and all!), and were working on scripts for the first episode. Then the pandemic happened and sports stopped.

Had we actually gone through with the plan and spent the last two years giving advice on hockey betting, I would have taken one look at this game and advised to run as far away as possible from making any sort of bet associated with it.

At first glimpse, it would seem to be an easy bet - the Lightning, off of three straight Stanley Cup Finals appearances, against the Arizona Coyotes, a top contender in the fight for Connor Bedard. It’s simple, right? Just throw your bet on the Bolts and wait for the money to roll in.

Wellllllll maybe not. Let’s talk about the concept of a scheduled loss. There are times throughout the season where you break down a team’s schedule and realize that factors other than pure talent may play a part in the final outcome. A case in point could be made that this game may fall into that category.

Factor One: The Lightning are on a back-to-back

After a long, high-paced game against the Colorado Avalanche that went to a shootout, the Lightning had to jump on a plane to Arizona and likely got into their hotels in the wee hours of the morning. On the other side, the Coyotes played in Nashville on Monday and have had a normal amount of rest as they get ready to kick off a short one-game homestand. Brian Elliott is likely to get the start. While he’s been solid as the back-up, he’s no Andrei Vasilevskiy (flashback to last night’s toe save in the third period).

Factor Two: Arizona has been playing okay hockey

In the month of February the Coyotes have recorded points in all four games that they’ve played with wins over Minnesota and Nashville and overtime losses to Chicago and St. Louis. Despite averaging just 2.67 goals per game on the season they’ve averaged 3.75 over this stretch. Fans rooting for the tank and the number one pick may not be pleased with this this sudden show of offense, but the Lightning and their sometimes casual approach to limiting scoring chances have to pay attention.

Clayton Keller has been on a tear over this stretch with 3 goals and 6 assists over his last four games.

Factor Three: Arizona has been better at home than on the road, the Lightning have been worse on the road than at home

The Coyotes have struggled on the road with just 7 wins in 33 games, but at home they have 11 wins in 21 games, which is respectable. The Lightning have played better on this road trip so far, but overall have been kind of average away from Amalie Arena. After the win against Colorado last night, Coach Cooper talked about being pleased with the four points on the trip so far, but stressed that the winning can’t stop with that. They have two more games on the trip and need points out of both.

Mullett Arena may only seat 4,600 fans, but from all reports it’s a rather raucous atmosphere akin to a college game when the team is playing well. It could be a little disorienting for the Lightning, who are used to playing in front of slightly larger crowds.

With all of that being said, the Lightning do have the deeper roster, something that is a tremendous asset in back-to-back games. If the Lightning can stay out of the penalty box, Coach Cooper can roll the third and fourth lines a little more and take some pressure off of the Point line. The Ross Colton/Nick Paul/Pat Maroon line had a sneaky good game last night posting a 75% edge in shot attempts and a 72.73% advantage in scoring chances when they were on the ice at even strength.

Having lines that can dominate when the top guys are on the bench is a tremendous advantage. Hopefully, they can carry that over into tonight’s contest.

Arizona is also down their top defender with Jakob Chychrun being held out as he waits to find out where he is going to be traded to (Los Angeles was the early contender). As for the Lightning, there was no word on the status of Nick Perbix, so there is a chance that Cal Foote stays in the line-up tonight. Coach Cooper hyped up his young defender, stressing that Foote has played well when needed. We’ll update in the comments if we hear anything about the line-up.

The Lightning should win this game and then enjoy the next few days in Las Vegas, but it’s not an automatic guarantee.

Comparison chart:

Tampa Bay Lightning at Arizona Coyotes Comparison

Game #54Tampa Bay LightningArizona Coyotes
Overall Record35-16-218-28-8
Home Record21-4-211-8-2
Road Record14-12-07-20-6
Goals For191146
Goals Against156191

Tampa Bay Lightning Potential Lines

Forward Lines

Brandon Hagel - Brayden Point - Nikita Kucherov

Steven Stamkos - Anthony Cirelli - Alex Killorn

Ross Colton - Nick Paul - Pat Maroon

Vlad Namestnikov - Pierre-Edouard Bellemare - Corey Perry

Defense Pairings

Victor Hedman - Zach Bogosian

Mikhail Sergachev - Erik Cernak

Ian Cole - Cal Foote/Nick Perbix


Brian Elliott

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Arizona Coyotes Potential Lines

Forward Lines

Clayton Keller - Barrett Hayton - Nick Smaltz

Matias Maccelli - Nick Bjugstad - Lawson Crouse

Nick Ritchie - Travis Boyd - Christian Fischer

Dysin Mayo - Jack McBain - Zack Kassian

Defense Pairings

Juuso Valimaki - Troy Stecher

Patrik Nemeth - J.J. Moser

Josh Brown - Victor Soderstrom


Karel Vejmelka

Connor Ingram