It's been 13 days since the Tampa Bay lightning won in Carolina to open the season. It feels a lot longer than that, doesn't it? The opening salvo was the comeback effort in Raleigh, and then everything from there has gone downhill at one point or another.
The penalty kill, which had been a shut-down menace, has suddenly become a sieve. The power play, which lit up the Carolina Hurricanes twice on October 7th, has scored all of once since then. They are 3-for-23 on the season, a woeful 13% conversion rate.
The offense has sputtered, the defense has seemed confused. And goaltending... An interesting story, that. Mathieu Garon gets the start in goal tonight for the Lightning. This is on the heels of Dwayne Roloson's meltdown his previous two starts - in Uniondale on October 13th, and Monday at Times Palace where he gave up 7 goals on 33 shots.
Where Roloson has statistically struggled, Garon has shined. But the Bolts keep losing, not from the efforts in goal, but the team play in front of either netminder. Could Roloson, who is posting a league-worst 5.09 goals-against average and a near-the-bottom .858 save percentage, be better? Absolutely. But the Bolts could do well by improving their puck possession, limiting opponents shots, stopping with the careless penalties and ending their habitual turnovers.
...Because while Roloson's numbers have bottomed out, Garon's record (0-1-1) is just as mired in mediocrity with thanks
An issue popped up for #1 D-man Eric Brewer yesterday and he did not practice. An MRI was performed and... Well, there's not much info on that. He was back out on ice this morning and will play tonight versus the Islanders.
Matt Gilroy remains in on defense for the Bolts, Bruno Gervais sits. Gilroy is a +2, but is clearly still adjusting to the system as he is statistically at the bottom of just about every defensive category (hits, blocked shots, takeaways) He's averaging 14 minutes of ice time a night in his four starts this season.
Also out tonight for the Bolts are Ryan Shannon and Mattias Ritola. Blair Jones and Tom Pyatt start in their place. So remains the life of a roster with 14 forwards and competition to earn playing time.
The Bolts come into this game and could they seek redemption for the drubbing they suffered in Uniondale last week? You'd certainly hope so. John Tavares is near the top of the NHL in goals (5) and points (9) with thanks in part to the 2 goals and 2 assists scored during the aforementioned drubbing of the Lightning.
While Tavares has been hot (as have the Islanders,w ho are 3-1-0 so far this season), I must ask if anyone has Seen Stamkos lately? Steven has 4 points on the season, a far cry from past efforts. Yes, teams now expect him... But he was scoring in spite of that for much of his first 3 seasons in the league.
Game time is 7:30 PM. The Raw Charge open thread will come online at 7. If you're not going to the game, join us won't you?