- Date & Location: Tuesday, October 12 at Amalie Arena in Tampa. Florida.
- Odds: Tampa Bay Lightning (-160) vs. Pittsburgh Penguins (+144) via BetOnline
- Prediction: Tampa Bay Lightning to win
The 2021-22 NHL season opens on Tuesday, October 12, with the 2021 Stanley Cup Champion Tampa Bay Lightning raising their championship banner to the rafters of the Amalie Arena in Tampa, Florida prior to their game against the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Lightning begin their pursuit of a third-straight Stanley Cup victory as the favorites over the Pens.
Tampa Bay Lightning
The Lightning are facing a quick turnaround as they won the Stanley Cup on July 7. No other team has played more or had less time off than the Lightning since the NHL restarted the 2019-20 season after a pause because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The team added veteran depth in the off season by signing Corey Perry and that will help as will the addition of depth players like Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, but will those signings be able to make up for losing Yanni Gourde, Blake Coleman and Barclay Goodrow? That’s something to monitor in the early going.
I think Tampa Bay is going to be extremely motivated in 2022. They have a chance to score a third straight Stanley Cup title and no team has done that since the early-80’s. That is going to be an enormous driving force behind the team for the entire 2022 campaign.
The Lightning also have one of the best goaltenders in the league in former Vezina Trophy winner Andrei Vasilevskiy, who posted a career low GAA in 2021 at 2.21. Vasilevskiy also tied his career best in save percentage at 9.25.
Tampa Bay Lightning to beat Pittsburgh Penguins -160 via SportsBetting
The bad news for the Penguins in this game is that both Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin are out of action. Crosby, who underwent wrist surgery on September, is just getting back to practice and is expected to miss at least the first week of the 2021-22 NHL regular season. Malkin is out for at least the first two months of the season after he underwent knee surgery. Crosby led the team last season with 62 points, while Malkin contributed 28.
With those players out, look to Jeff Carter to pick up significant ice time and scoring responsibilities. Carter played 14 games for the Penguins last year after moving to Pittsburgh via trade. He scored 11 points.
Goaltending is a big concern with the Penguins. Tristan Jarry‘s GAA was 3.18 and his save percentage was .888 in the playoffs, which was a far cry from the 2.75 GAA and .909 save percentage he posted during the regular season.
Pittsburgh Penguins to beat Tampa Bay Lightning +145 via BetUS.
Even if Pittsburgh had Crosby and Malkin on the ice for this game, I think they would be hard pressed to defeat the Lightning. Tampa Bay is the better team in this matchup, especially in the net. I expect Tampa Bay to be fired up in front of the home crowd for the 2021-22 NHL season opener and I think the Lightning club gets the win.
Tampa Bay Lightning to beat Pittsburgh Penguins -170 via Bovada.
See below the top sportsbooks where you can wager online and choose the best one for you: