This is the last game of 2013 for the Tampa Bay Lightning. They're ringing in the new year in Vancouver, British Columbia against the Vancouver Canucks (that'll be new years day) and have a month ahead with many a road game in store; 10 of 15 will be played in hostile territory.
First things first though - the Bolts close out 2013 against the New York Rangers tonight at Times Palace as the flip-side of back-to-back games. Last night's Hockey Night in Canada interrupted game (plenty of stoppages, plenty of TV timeouts, plenty of annoyances that strung out the game longer than was necessary) was taxing - but will it limit Tampa Bay tonight against a more-rested Rangers team?
The Rangers are still stuck in the Metro mire; they've sunk to 6th in the Metro Division and are 3-5-2 in their past 10 games, including a Friday night loss to the Capitals in DC. Henrik Lundqvist, the suave Swede, will be between the pipes for New York tonight (and likely out for a degree of revenge after Tampa Bay lit him up in November).
It looks as if the Lightning is once again rolling four forward lines - Erik Erlendsson reported Richard Panik is in the lineup tonight and B.J. Crombeen is out. Anders Lindback will also be getting the start for the Bolts.
It's like old times but totally not when you look at the Bolts and Rangers statistical leaders: Brad Richards and Martin St. Louis lead the team(s). The duo of Brad Marty is often underappreciated in Lightning team history; those two (along with left wing Fredrik Modin) were a jack-of-all-trades line that John Tortorella liked to go to for all kinds of situations. Bradmaster has 27 points on the season in New York (9 goals, 18 assists) while Marty has 38 with the Lightning (17 goals, 21 assists).
While I'm touching on scoring statistics for the two clubs, here's an oddity: both teams #3 scorer has 23 points. The difference being that the Lightning's third top scorer hasn't played in six weeks time (Steven Stamkos - 14 goals, 9 assists in 17 games). It's Derek Stepan who owns that slot for the Rangers (7 goals, 16 assists in 32 games played).
Other Game Coverage:
- Tampa Bay Lightning official team preview
- Full coverage on SB Nation