Florida Panthers at Tampa Bay Lightning 10/9/2014 Free NHL Picks & Predictions
by Tony Sink - 10/8/2014
Thursday October 9, 2014
Amalie Arena in Tampa
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The Florida Panthers will get their first chance to see if all of their offseason moves will pay off on Thursday night when they take on the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Lightning were able to sweep the Panthers in all four of their games against each other last season.
Florida had the second fewest points (66) in the Eastern Conference last year after scoring just 2.3 goals per game and giving up 3.2 goals per game. Center Nick Bjugstad had a solid rookie season for the Panthers last season, finishing with 16 goals and 22 assists in 76 games. Veteran defenseman Brian Campbell had a team-high 30 assists.
The Panthers made multiple moves to bolster their team, but their biggest pick-up was veteran goaltender Roberto Luongo. The 35-year-old will immediately be the team's number one netminder after stopping 92 percent of the shots he faced last year.
Tampa Bay finished with 46 wins during the regular season last year, but they were quickly swept by the Montreal Canadiens in the first round of the playoffs. Goalie Ben Bishop quickly shot up the ranks last season and was easily the Lightning's top player. Young defenseman Victor Hedman had a team-leading 42 assists in 75 games.
New defenseman Jason Garrison should make the Lightning's blue line right away after playing great defense for the Vancouver Canucks last year and contributing 33 points in 81 games.
Injuries to Watch
10/06/14 C David Bolland Flu probable Thursday vs. Tampa Bay
10/06/14 D Erik Gudbranson Undisclosed probable Thursday vs. Tampa Bay
Tampa Bay Lightning
10/06/14 D Mattias Ohlund Knee out indefinitely
Tony's Pick: Take Tampa Bay
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