Charles LeClaire-US PRESSWIRE
The Lightning finish off their weekend road-trip with the Penguins in Pittsburgh. The Penguins may be without Evgeni Malkin tonight, but that doesn't stop the offensive explosiveness that they boast... Nor the explosiveness fo the Lightning for that matter.
It's a point to crow about the Tampa Bay Lightning's top five forwards in scoring - Steven Stamkos, Martin St. Louis, Vincent Lecavalier, Teddy Purcell, Cory Conacher and Benoit Pouliot - have 113 points between them, more than some teams in the NHL. It's a chest thumping statistic....
...up until you compare it to the Pittsburgh Penguins. Unlike the Lightning, the Penguins have seven players with double-digit point totals so far this season, and 120 total points among them. Sure, that's two more players than the Lightning total - and all of a seven point margin of difference - but it tells you the Penguins offense is on par - if not exceeds - that of the Lightning. Led by Sidney Crosby and rounded out by Evgeni Malkin, Chris Kunitz, James Neal, Kris Letang, Pascal Dupuis, and Paul Martin... That's a magnificent set of seven right there.
Seeing the Penguins have already suffered the effects of dismissing a concussion and skating a star immediately after suffering one, Pittsburgh is taking much more caution with Evgeni and he will not be playing tonight. Best wishes to one of the league's premier scorers on a speedy recovery.
While the Penguins being minus Malkin may look like an opportunity for Tampa Bay... Well, the Bolts are still playing the flip-side of back-to-back games. Yes, they have the Southeast Division lead again, yes they are in the playoff picture again, but that does nothing to change the fact the Penguins were off yesterday, the Penguins are the Atlantic Division leader with 24 points and a 12-6-0 record in 18 games; the Pens highly effective power player is at 27.4%.
Intimidating, but we still play the game and roll the dice to see who comes out on top.
is likely to will start in net for the Lightning tonight (being as Mathieu Garon started last night). There has been no confirmation, though, about either starting netminder as of this writing. I'll put my money on Lindback, though, and Left Wing Lock put its money on Marc-Andre Fleury starting for the Penguins.
As I said in yesterday's preview, Keith Aulie will likely find his way back into the Lightning lineup tonight. If he replaces Marc-Andre Bergeron in the lineup remains to be seen; you know how Guy Boucher loves to play seven defensemen, after all.
Speaking of defensemen - it's worth noting that while there is huge value in having a right-handed defenseman on the roster and in the lineup, Brian Lee (who is often ridiculed for poorly timed mistakes and penalties) is one of only two Lightning players who have not recorded a point this season. The other is Pierre-Cedric Labrie, who has only played three NHL games compared to Lee's 15 and is currently on a conditioning assignment in Syracuse of the AHL.
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