In the last week, Tampa Bay lost netminder Ben Bishop with a lower body injury and on Dec. 29th, Pittsburgh announced Stanley Cup hero Matt Murray is out “indefinitely” with the same description.
Both teams came into this season carrying the luxury of two first-rate goaltenders and speculation began early on what and how will happen with these situations. Now with Bishop expected out until the later stages of January and Murray undetermined at this juncture, both are thankful they carried these valuable assets forward.
Lightning Turn to Youngster and Penguins To Veteran
Tampa Bay had 22-year old Andrei Vasilevskiy waiting in the wings and most serious bettors who study the NHL odds know this is the Lightning’s future goaltender. He performed very well when Bishop was hurt during 2015 Stanley Cup run and has all the tools to be a top notch player between the pipes.
With Tampa Bay scuffling as a .500 team as we near the halfway point of the season, they could use Vasilevskiy as a springboard to a hot streak, to kick-start their season. However, that has not happened yet, with the Russian 3-3, with high 3.51 goals against average (as of 12/29) and low save percentage (.876) since Dec. 1st. Hard to back the Lightning right now for any reason.
Marc-Andre Fleury takes over again for the Penguins and 32-year old netminder struggled in the early part of the season, essentially losing his job. Fleury has picked up level of play in the last month with 2.53 GAA and .923 save percentage in eight games and six starts. With how the Pens are playing, Fleury and Pittsburgh appear safer NHL picks option.
Doug Upstone wrote this for www.sportsbookreview.com