While the Tampa Bay Lightning continued the road-team favoritisim of the 2011 NHL Playoffs on Saturday, they'll need to remember why home ice is supposed to bring an advantage when they face the Pittsburgh Penguins tonight in Tampa, Florida.. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
No matter what your opinions are of Saturday's game, the fact of the matter is that the Lightning strive forth, once more, unto the breach. With their very lives still at stake, they seek to defy the repeatedly stated odds against home teams during the 2011 NHL playoffs and force a final confrontation with the Pittsburgh Penguins at CONSOL Energy Center on Wednesday.
A game seven.
But to get there, they have to win game six at home tonight at the St. Pete Times FOrum. From SB Nation Tampa Bay:
Normally the Lightning would be looking forward to another home game in the series. But home ice has actually been a disadvantage so far in the playoffs. The home team is only 1-4 in this series and 18-24 overall in the first round.
Rally drums, thundersticks, whiteout's, terrible towels... It hasn't rallied the home team at either CONSOL or Times Palace. And if the Bolts want to stay alive, if they want the opportunity to advance by forcing game seven, they're going to have to solve the home issue that's plagued the NHL Playoffs this year.
Conveniently after the jump, let me mention that the home team won two of three contests yesterday: The Chicago Blackhawks stayed alive and forced a seventh game against the Vancouver Canucks. Meanwhile, in Nashville, the Predators won their first playoff series ever by defeating the Anaheim Ducks 4-2.
In other words, it's not all bad for the home team at the moment.
I fully expect the same lineup for the Bolts tonight as they had in game five: Marc-Andre Bergeron playing as the seventh defenseman, Dana Tyrell (if not someone else from the corps) sitting. For all the line juggling Guy Boucher can end up doing, mixing and matching players on a whim, he does stick with the 11/7 forward-defense combo when it's working.
The need for game six is to avoid getting complacent in their own zone: Get puck possession and move it forward, do not leave Dwayne Roloson all on his own as the defense. That's how far too much of Saturday's victory played out: With Dwayne saving the team's ass time and again because of lethargy by the defense in their own zone.
Of course, they are going to also have to solve Marc-Andre Fleury. Again. I look at Saturday as a fluke for MA, and expect his A-game tonight at Times Palace. That goes for the rest of the Penguins, too, as they will want revenge from what can be seen as the humiliation from Saturday.
Tampa Bay Lightning official team preview