Four months ago, the Chicago Blackhawks beat the Tampa Bay Lightning in six games to win the Stanley Cup. They’ll meet again this Saturday (8:30 PM ET, NHLN) at the United Center, but it’s the Lightning who have enjoyed the better start to the 2015-16 campaign. Tampa Bay is 4-2-1 after seven games, while Chicago is 4-3.
Expectations are high for both teams after reaching the Cup Final last season. So far, Tampa has managed to exceed expectations, earning 0.55 units on the puck line with a record of 3-4 ATS. Chicago has had a tougher time at 2-5 ATS (–3.43 units); two-time Norris Trophy defenseman Duncan Keith is on long-term injured reserve after undergoing surgery on his right meniscus, while fellow blueliner Michal Rozsival (ankle) isn’t expected back for a few weeks.
The Lightning skate into Saturday’s game relatively healthy, with a goal differential of +3 to Chicago’s +1. Tampa Bay ranked eighth in the league in Fenwick For at 52.4%, four spots ahead of the Blackhawks at 51.1%, going into Thursday’s action. The Bolts will also have No. 6 defensemen Nikita Nesterov back in uniform after he finishes his two-game suspension for a boarding penalty.