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Something Brew(er)ing in Tampa; Panthers at Lightning preview

WHERE: St. Pete Times Forum, Tampa, Florida
WHEN: 7:30 PM EST
MEDIA: Sun Sports (cable), 620 WDAE (radio)
OPPONENT COVERAGE: Litter Box Cats

The focus leading into tonight's game is the Eric Brewer trade and how it affects the make up of the Tampa Bay Lightning defense. It's not a huge surprise the Bolts made the move, as there was a need for reinforcements on the blue-line.

It's just enigmatic how Eric will fit into the Lightning lineup.

Mike Lundin is out, and has been placed on injured reserve. This you should know. Defensive pairings have looked something like this in recent days:

Brett Clark - Victor Hedman
Randy Jones - Mattias Ohlund
Marc-Andre Bergeron - Pavel Kubina
Mike Vernace or Matt Smaby as a 7th defenseman

Vernace was sent back to the Norfolk Admirals before yesterday's acquisition. Will Brewer be playing as the 7th defenseman? Will he substitute for Mattias Ohlund, or perhaps Randy Jones, giving both players a chance to heal? Do recall that Ohlund took a shot off his knee before the 2011 All-Star break. And Randy Jones, it was revealed, is playing with a high-ankle sprain.

The defensive puzzle will be pieced together in the coming days. But tonight, Brewer makes his Tampa ay Lightning debut against a Florida Panthers team that played the Detroit Red Wings in Sunrise last night. How that will factor in is just as interesting as how the Lightning defense will be re-arranged.

The Bolts are 1-1-1 against the Panthers this season. This will be the second time the Bolts have caught them on the flip-side of a back-to-back series this season. The first time it had happened was in November, where the Bolts suffered a shoot-out loss to the Cats.

The Panthers are opening a four game road after their home loss to the Red Wings last night. Tomas Vokoun faced 30 shots on goal, turning back 26 of them. Don't be surprised if he gets the nod against the Bolts.

The Panthers have improved to 29th in the league on the power play, with a 13.5% conversion rate. They're also highly effective on the penalty kill (with thanks to Vokoun as well as being the least penalized team in the league). They're ranked 3rd overall with an 85.9% kill-rate.

If this game is to be won, it's at even strength.

Dan Ellis will be the starter in net for the Bolts.

Game thread note: We'll be splitting time between Raw Charge and Litter Box Cats during tonight's game. The 1st and 3rd periods will have members from both sites discussing the game at Raw Charge. The second period will have us all at The Litter Box. Game thread opens at 7.

Other Previews

Tampa Bay Lightning official team preview

TBO

Full game coverage on SB Nation

 

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