Author's note: Because of the bakc-to-back status of today's game as well as the 22-hour turn-around between games, this post is a hybrid preview and game thread. It will be promoted on Twitter at the standard 30-minutes before game time.
With a lackluster, couldn't-buy-a-goal effort the night before, the Lightning were rewarded with a trip to Detroit following the game for this evening's contest with the Red Wings. Detroit is coming off their own poor performance last night as they suffered a loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins, with more injuries for an already injury depleted roster.
And to add insult to injury from last night's shutout in Newark, the Bolts did not arrive in Detroit until 4 AM.
Some thing are different and some things are very much the same between the two clubs since they met this past Thursday; they are currently tied in the Atlantic Division standings with 39 points apiece, Ben Bishop starts in goal for the Lightning, major names for both clubs remain out of the lineup (Pavel Datsyuk, Stephen Weiss and Henrik Zetterberg for Detroit, Steven Stamkos and Victor Hedman for Tampa Bay).
But some things are changed too - like starting netminders for Detroit. It won't be Jonas Gustavsson in net for the Red Wings, but Petr Mrazek instead. Mrazek will be making his fourth ever NHL start here, but don't let the green factor fool you - he's been very strong in both his NHL and AHL play. This season, in his lone start with the Wings on November 2nd, Mrazek notched himself a shutout (but only faced 14 shots) against the Edmonton Oilers. In the AHL for Grand Rapids, Mrazek has a 2.09 GAA and .927 save percentage in 13 games. This has the makings of another goalie duel if the Bolts fail to put shots on net (or a lack a consistent effort in the Red Wings zone.)Mrazek was recalled because Jimmy Howard is out with an ACL injury.
Another change, with thanks to last night's game against the Pens which added more injury woes for Detroit, is forward Justin Abdelkader. This will result in another recall from AHL Grand Rapids.
The Lightning could very well employ two fresh bodies for this contest - defenseman Mark Barberio and forward Richard Panik. Barberio was a healthy scratch from last night's loss in Newark, while Panik's two-game suspension for boarding the Washington Capitals Karl Alzner on Tuesday is now officially over. That doesn't mean either player will find their way into the lineup, but the option is there for both.