Westgate NHL Futures
The Columbus Blue Jackets have entered Lord Stanley’s championship tournament with the attitude that they are the best team in the event. Furthermore they are playing like it. After two games in the Jackets first-round best-of-seven series against the top team the league, Tampa Bay Lightning, they hold a 2-nil edge.
To pour salt in the wounded play of the Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov has been suspended one game after boarding Columbus’ defenseman Markus Nutivaara on Friday night during Game 2.
Game 3 is Sunday and Tampa Bay travels for the contest that will be played in Columbus.
Lightning Player Personnel Updates
Kucherov, who led the league in scoring with 128 points (41 goals, 87 assists), is the favorite for the Hart Trophy, given to the league’s MVP is out for Sunday’s affair. The Jackets are up against a group of Lightning skaters that matched the NHL’s record for regular-season wins (62). But for yet another postseason have been a disappointment. Two games doesn’t win or lose a Stanley Cup series but if Tampa is knocked from the chase for Lord Stanley’s cup without advancing beyond the first round it will arguably be the biggest upset and largest disappointment across a solid had decade run for Tampa.
The Lightning might be missing another star player for Game 3, as coach Jon Cooper said Victor Hedman’s status is in question as the defenseman is “banged up.” The team has listed Hedman’s status for Game 3 in Southern Ohio as questionable.
Tampa Bay has carried the mantel of Stanley Cup favorites the entire season. The opened at 8-1 nearly a year ago and dropped as low as 3-1 during the regular season. The latest update from Westgate have them checking in at 5-1.