After a solid start, Tampa Bay fell into oblivion. Those betting hockey cashed frequently as the Lightning were 9-22 SU from Nov. 25 thru Ground Hog’s Day, a rather lengthy stretch.
Since the middle of December, there has been talk of trading goalie Ben Bishop and center Brian Boyle, both who are unrestricted free agent after the season. It certainly appeared trading one or both of the players makes sense, especially with Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat and Jonathan Drouin all up for new contracts this summer.
Then something happened, the Lightning caught a spark and went 5-0-2 and moved to within six points of Toronto for the last wild card spot. The unexpected home loss to Calgary on Thursday just made the decision as to what to do that much tougher, with only one game remaining before the trade deadline.
Looking at the teams Tampa Bay will be facing the rest of the way, most are in the same boat they are, either currently just in or out of the Eastern Conference playoff picture, thus, this is really about how the Lightning would perform. If their best players play to talent level, they can get in, but if they don’t, they have only themselves to blame.
If you have been making NHL picks all season, you know Tampa Bay needs to trade Bishop and Boyle and get players in return that will add depth, something this team sorely needs. Let’s face it, the NHL odds are long this team is anywhere close to the last two Lightning squads that went to the Cup Finals and Eastern Finals. Of course anything can happen once the Stanley Cup playoffs start, but Tampa Bay has to think about next season and beyond also. You cannot overlook more than two months of poor play and determine seven games could save your season.
Doug Upstone wrote this for www.sportsbookreview.com