Six games on the NHL hockey board tonight. Here is our best bet for Friday:
TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING AT EDMONTON OILERS:
Things are not going well in Tampa right now. One year after the Lightning made the Stanley Cup Finals there is more news being made off the ice than on it. One of the bigger stories of late—star prospect Jonathan Drouin is demanding a trade. Drouin was the #3 pick overall in 2013 but has only played 89 games in the NHL including 19 this season. It's starting to look to even objective hockey experts that the team is intent on burying him for reasons unknown. He's been sent back down to the AHL Syracuse Crunch as he waits for something to happen. To quote one hockey writer: “Drouin has been scoring and driving puck possession at a rate on par with top-six forwards while getting ice time typically reserved for fourth-line players.” It's easy to understand why he's frustrated. The current word on the streets has the Montreal Canadiens making a strong push to acquire Droudin.
Also, there's the Steven Stamkos issue. Stamkos becomes a free agent at the end of this year and he's looking to get paid. He's reportedly seeking an annual salary of $11 million or more. He also wants a long term deal at that price. The Lightning are apparently disinclined to pay him what he wants. There's been talk that he's going to get traded to the Detroit Red Wings before the deadline, there's been scenarios that have him going to other teams including St. Louis, Toronto and Anaheim. There's nothing wrong with Stamkos' game and he's just 25 years old. It's simply a case of the Lightning not wanting to commit that much money to one player.
The team has also disappointed on the ice where they're two points out of the Eastern Conference's final wild card spot. Of course, after you get past the two division leaders in the East you've got eleven teams within 10 points of each other. Tampa has been playing breakeven hockey lately going 5-4-1 in their last ten games. Edmonton has won two straight but is on a 3-6-1 run in their last 10. The Oilers have struggled to win on the road but have a winning record (12-7-1) at home.
The question here is: “Why is a Tampa team playing such mediocre hockey a -145 road favorite'? We're asking the same thing and betting accordingly.
BET EDMONTON OILERS +135 OVER TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING