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Facing the Reigning Champs -- Lightning at Pittsburgh Preview

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WHERE:  Mellon Arena, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
WHEN: 7:30 PM EDT
MEDIA:  Sun Sports TV (Cable - HD), 620WDAE (Radio)

One of the stories playing out, even before the 7-1 drubbing the Lightning suffered in Ottawa on Thursday, is the lack of offensive output by Alex Tanguay and Vincent Lecavalier.  While both players have chipped in with assists, they are both suffering goal droughts that date back to last season.  Tanguay has not scored in 9 regular season games and Lecavalier has not scored in his past 13.

And is it really a good or bad thing when you find out the Lightning used Jessie's Girl by Rick Springfield as a motivational song this morning?

Regardless, lets get back to the facts:  The Lightning were drubbed on Thursday and are trying to regroup against Lord Stanley's champions, the Pittsburgh Penguins.  The Pens are the hot-hand in the NHL -- not only were they this week's #1 team on the SB Nation's top-ten power rankings, they've won four in-a-row on the road.  I think that's evidence enough their title-defense is well underway.

Pens netminder Marc-Andre Fleury leads the league right now with six wins as well as being able to boast a .917 save percentage and a 2.27 goals against average.  Offensively, the Pens are spreading the points around.  While Evgeni Malkin leads the team with 9 points (3 goals, six assists), each member of the rest of the team stand at five-points or below. 

Does that mean they aren't a threat/  Hell no, just the opposite...  Beware because this team can break out at any given time.

The Pens are 21st in the league on the power play (17.9% cover ) and ninth on the penalty kill (83.3%).  With how much difficulty the Lightning had against the Ottawa penalty kill on Thursday, they should still find their hands full against the Penguins -- unless they wake up as a team.

Sidenote -- this is the second-to-last regular season visit the Lightning will make to Mellon Arena.  Next season the Pens move into their new facility.  The Pens will also be wearing their blue alternate sweater tonight.  After this game the Bolts are off until Thursday versus the San Jose Sharks at Times Palace.

 

Tampa Bay Lightning Projected Lines

 

(updated October 17, 2009 by RawCharge subject to change)

Forward Lines:

Alex Tanguay - Vincent Lecavalier - Steve Downie
Ryan Malone - Steven Stamkos - Martin St. Louis
Drew Miller - Jeff Halpern - James Wright
Todd Fedoruk - Zenon Konopka - Stephane Veilleux

Defense:

Mattias Ohlund | Victor Hedman
Paul Ranger | Matt Walker
Kurtis Foster | Andrej Meszaros

Goalies

Antero Niittymaki (starter)
Mike Smith

 


Other Preview Sources:

Tampa Bay Lightning official game preview

TSN's Official Game Preview

Pensburgh -- SB Nation's official Pittsburgh Penguins blog