You don’t have to review Friday’s NHL schedule to find one game that should capture your attention and be placed on the marquee. The Winnipeg Jets and Tampa Bay Lightning meet in Friday’s Main Event on the NHL schedule.
The Jets vs. Lightning could be a potential Stanley Cup preview and is far and away the most interesting, competitive, and evenly-matched games on Friday night. As such, we’re providing you with a special betting preview here at hockeytakes.com.
Hellebuyck vs. Vasilevskiy Should Be Spectacular
Goaltending is critical in hockey, and the Winnipeg Jets and Tampa Bay Lightning have two of the top five goaltenders in the NHL, and both are expected to be in the net for Friday’s main event. Connor Hellebuyck and Andrei Vasilevskiy are critical to their teams’ pursuits of post-season success and have been excellent this season.
If Hellebuyck and Vasilevskiy are close to their best form that has won Vezina Trophies (and Vasilevskiy a couple of Stanley Cups), then we should be in for a spectacular night of elite NHL goaltending.
Lightning Looking to Bounce Back
The Tampa Bay Lightning had a four-game winning streak ended in their last matchup, a 5-1 loss to the Minnesota Wild. Tampa Bay has won seven of the last ten games.
In their last five games, the Lightning has hit the over once, had one game end with six total goals, and four games ending in at least a 1.5-goal spread. The Lightning are 6-1 in the last seven games against Central division competition, while the under is 4-1-2 in Tampa Bay’s last seven road games.
Unsurprisingly, the Tampa Bay Lightning can score plenty of goals, be it five-on-five or on the powerplay. The Lightning are ranked fifth in the NHL, averaging 3.5 goals per game, while the powerplay is converting at 27.5% and is ranked fifth overall.
Defensively, while the Lightning are giving up an average of 2.9 goals per game and ranked 13th overall, Tampa Bay’s penalty kill is ranked seventh, operating at 81.8% efficiency.
Brian Elliot (8-3-0, 3.17 GAA, .897 SV%) has started the last two games in a row. Unless there is an unlisted injury, we expect Andrei Vasilevskiy (16-9-1, 2.42 GAA, .921 SV%) to get the start for the Lightning.
Jets Flying on a Winning Streak
The Winnipeg Jets enter Friday night having won three games in a row, six of the last ten and are ranked second in the Central Division. In the last five games, three games have ended in at least a 1.5-goal spread, while only one game has come close to hitting the over, ending with six total goals.
The under is 4-1 in Winnipeg’s last five games against the Atlantic Division and 8-2-2 in the Jets’ last 12 games against teams with .600 winning percentages or better. Notably, for the Jets, the home team is 6-2 in the last eight meetings.
The Jets are ranked 17th in the NHL, averaging 3.2 goals per game. Winnipeg’s powerplay is ranked 15th and converting at 23.1%.
Defensively, the Jets are spectacular. Winnipeg is ranked second in the NHL, giving up an average of 2.6 goals per game, while the Jets’ penalty killers are ranked 5th and operating at 82.7% efficiency.
Winnipeg has a lengthy injury report it has been overcoming all season, featuring Mason Appleton, Nate Schmidt, Blake Wheeler, Cole Perfetti, and Nikolaj Ehlers. The Jets have been very good without these important players, meaning they will be difficult to play when the playoffs come around.
Connor Hellebuyck (19-9-1, 2.31 GAA, .928 SV%) has been fantastic for the Jets this season and has played the last four games in a row but should be the Jets’ starter against the Lightning on Friday night.
Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Winnipeg Jets Head-to-Head
This is the first head-to-head matchup between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Winnipeg Jets in the 2022-23 season. The Jets and Lightning split the season series in 2021-22, with each team winning one game and both teams averaging 5.5 goals across the two games.
Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Winnipeg Jets Game Information
Game: Tampa Bay Lightning (24-12-1) at Winnipeg Jets (24-13-1)
Location: Canada Life Centre, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Day/Time: Friday, January 6th, 8:00 p.m. ET
Television: ESPN+ | NHLPP | Regional Broadcast Partners
Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Winnipeg Jets Prediction
NHL odds have the Tampa Bay Lightning as the moneyline favorite at -130 odds, while the Winnipeg Jets are the underdog at +110. The Lightning have a 24-13 straight-up moneyline record, while the Jets have a 24-14 straight-up record.
Tampa Bay is listed at +1.5 on the puck line spread with +175 odds, while Winnipeg is listed at +1.5 at -210 odds. The Jets have a 24-14 record against the spread (ATS), while the Lightning are 17-20 ATS.
The total goals line is set at six, with the over listed at -120 and the under at even odds. Tampa Bay has a 17-19-1 over/under record, while Winnipeg has a 12-25-1 over/under record.
First, with a Vasilevskiy vs. Hellebuyck goaltending matchup likely and following the betting trends, we’ll take the under in this game. That’s the easy pick.
Our second pick is significantly more difficult. Both teams are among the candidates to make deep runs in the NHL playoffs. We’re going to take the Winnipeg Jets as the home underdog to shut down the Tampa Bay Lightning. Although, we could easily change our minds and take the Lightning. You won’t need to work hard to take the three-time reigning Eastern Conference champions to win a big NHL game on the moneyline.
Our final pick is much easier, considering the Jets are listed at +1.5 on the puck line spread, we think this game hits the under, and we’re taking them to win outright. We’re taking the Jets to cover the spread, even if we were to take the Lightning on the moneyline.
The Jets will keep this close and cover the spread, even in a losing effort.
Pick: Winnipeg Jets + 1.5 (-210), Winnipeg Jets ML (Even)
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