After a mostly successful homestand that saw the Tampa Bay Lightning pick up eight points out of a possible ten, the Bolts are back on the road for the first game of a four-game road trip.
Tampa could have had a better time on its first road trip and hopes a date with the struggling Columbus Blue Jackets can provide the first road win of the season.
Tampa Bay Lightning: On the road again
The most relevant thing going on with Tampa is the impending return of Tyler Motte. After leaving the game opening night with an injury, Motte is close to returning. He was at practice yesterday, and Jon Cooper expects Motte to suit up at some point during this road trip.
Tampa will have to choose whether or not to keep Alex Barre-Boulet in the lineup or to keep Waltteri Merela. That choice will get even more complicated once Andrei Vasilevskiy returns and salary cap realities complicate matters even further.
Who to watch on Columbus
The Blue Jackets were supposed to be coached by Mike Babcock this season, but he likes looking at the phones of his players too much, so he was invited to leave,
Columbus got out to an okay start before losing their last four games to give them a record of 3-4-2. They are 7th in the Metro Division and are currently three points out of a playoff spot.
Defenseman Ivan Provorov has led the scoring for Columbus with seven points through their nine games. Star power-wise, the Blue Jackets have Patrik Laine and Johnny Gaudreau, but Laine has been out since a hit he took from Rasmus Andersson that resulted in a four game suspension for Andersson, while Gaudreau only has four points to begin the 2023-24 campaign.
The Blue Jackets did a ton of mixing and matching in their last game, with Justin Danforth, Sean Kuraly, and Mathieu Olivier comprising what would count as their most-used line. Danforth is second on the team with three goals and Kuraly is fourth with two goals.
Despite being a road game, the oddsmakers believe in the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Bolts are listed as -165 favorites, while Columbus is a +140 underdog. Tampa is actually the second highest favorite on the night across the 12 games being played in the NHL.
The over/under is at the standard 6.5 goals.
Tampa is 3-2-1 as a favorite this season, while Columbus is 3-4-1 as an underdog. Tampa is 4-3-2 vs the over/under, while Columbus is 4-5 at hitting the over.