WHERE: Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Uniondale, New York
WHEN: 7 PM EST
MEDIA: Sun Sports, 620 WDAE
Lets start with the enws of the weekend that we did not report here on Raw Charge but it none-the-less happened. No, no, not what the title suggests, but the fact Lukas Krajicek was sent to AHL Norfolk. The new rub is, the Lightning have no intention of calling Krajicek back up to expose him to re-entry waivers (and letting other teams pick him up at half-price).
Coming off the victory versus St. Louis on Friday night, the Lightning are in need of somethign that has eluded the team since early November and only twice this season: back-to-back wins. Indeed, the last time the Lightning won back-to-back games was November 7th/12th (Montreal and Minnesota). Before that it had been October a full month (October 10th/12th versus Carolina and Florida).
So there is qa burden on the Lightning's shoulders tonight that the team has not beeen able to shake all season long - play a second winning effort and not fall back into the mire. Which team will show up remains to be seen - will they be the blunder-kids of the majority of this road-trip, or will they be the team that shut out this very Islanders team two weeks ago?
Indeed, last time these two teams danced, the Bolts shut out the Isles 4-0 at Times Palace. Mike Smith was in net for that one... As he will be tonight for this one. Smith is 5-9-5 on the season with a 3.14 GAA and .897 Save percentage. Both are well below his career average. We found out the Lightning had been showcasing Smith, playing him more often so scouts could see him, and offered him to Philadelphia earlier this month. Smith's inconsistency for the BOlts still reminds me far too much of former Lightning goaltender John Grahame -- aggressive to a fault, and liable to give up questionable or soft goals all too often.
The Isles are suffering on special teams at this point -- with a 16.6% power play conversion rate, a 75.4% penalty kill ratio. Due to snow conditions, the Isles did not practice yesterday.
This is one fo the rare games where the Lightning should have an outright chance when you look at the stat comparisons. Not only do they hold advantages on special teams (79% penalty kill rate, 17.3 power play conversion rate), but goals-for (2.46 vs. 2.42 for the Isles), goals against (2.89 goals allowed per game compared to 3.11 for the Isles) and faceoff percentage (51.7 versus 48.1).
Whcih Lightning team show sup tonight, though? The team humiliated in Chicago? Pushed around in Detroit? Or the winners in St. Louis?
The Bolts head home for the holidays after this one -- spending Christmas and New Years at Times Palace.
[Note by John Fontana, 12/21/09 6:00 PM EST ] It would appear that Zenon Konopka ill be scratched tonight -- a "body maintenance" scratch. Meanwhile, defenseman Matt Walker will also be out -- he suffered an injury in the 1st period of Friday's win over St. Louis. Steve Downie is set to return.