While you were prepping for a night of fun or mischief late yesterday afternoon, the Tampa Bay Lightning announced a little roster move that could translate to a big difference in the lineup: Cedric Paquette was optioned back to the Syracuse Crunch of the AHL. The move is to make roster space for the return to the lineup of one Mister Ryan Callahan. Paquette played four games and was even in plus/minus but was also pointless in those matchups. Callahan's 5 points on the season (3 goals, 2 assists) puts him in a tie for 8th on the team in total points with Brian Boyle and Jason Garrison.
The Lightning lines shift around with Cllahan back; he'll be playing on the top line with Steven Stamkos and Valtteri Filppula. Jonathan Drouin, for those wondering, is playing on the fourth line. Don't read that as playing-a-grinding-role, but he isn't playing the same role in the lineup as he would be on the higher lines. The Tampa Bay Times had a feature on this recently.
All that being said, I do believe the opponent deserves just a bit of acknowledgement here. While it was played up about the Philadelphia Flyers being the rival of the Lightning, the Washington Capitals were not exactly buddies with the Bolts either. All too often, the Lightning and the old Southeast Division were dominated by the Washington Capitals (at least in the recent years before the SE's extinction with realignment) and the Bolts were lost trying to play catch-up to Alex Ovechkin, Mike Green and the rest of the Capitals.
It's early going but the Capitals are mired in the Metro Division at the moment, losing their past two. They're a damn sight better than the hapless and winless Carolina Hurricanes. Heck, a 4-3-2 record isn't something to shake a stick at (or 27 goals-for scored by the club in their first 9 games) but being in 5thplace in the division (and only ahead of the Flyers due to a game in-hand) leaves something to be desired.
Alex Ovechkin is playing a well rounded game so far for Washington, with 5 goals and 1 assist to his name and a minus-1 rating (as compared to last season's minus-35). It's defenseman Mike Green who currently leads the Caps in scoring with 3 goals and 5 assists (Ovi does lead the Capitals in goals, though).
It'll be Braden Holtby in net for Washington tonight. he's 3-2-1 with a 2.25 GAA and a .907 save percentage. It should be remembered that Braden is a much older foe for some of the Lightning than his NHL career shows; many of the Tampacuse alumni (during their time in both Norfolk and Syracuse) played against Holtby as he served as starting goalie for the Hershey Bears (Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat, Alex Killorn, Radko Gudas, and Mark Barberio - who will be in the lineup tonight for the Bolts).
Ben Bishop will once again get the start for the Lightning. While the club is 6-1-1 with him as the starter, Bishops numbers are dwindling compared to last season; a .911 save percentage and a goals against average at 2.39. The GAA can be looked at as solid by way of a good defensive effort in front of Bish, but the shrinking save percentage is on him; he's not stopping shots at the same rate as last season. It wasn't to be expected for him to repeat what he did for the Lightning last season (where he was a finalist for the Vezina Trophy) but the performance fall is clear at this point.
Other Game Coverage:
- Tampa Bay Lightning official team preview
- Full coverage on SB Nation
- Live stream of Tampa Bay Lightning coverage on Twitter