The Tampa Bay Lightning's opening month of the NHL season contains a total of seven games played on the road. Focus with them been on the Atlantic Division and Central Division in those travels. I don't think I need to rehash all the opponents and destinations of the past month, but I can tell you October ends with a two game home stint at the Amalie before heading back out on the road for a four game road trip once again. That stint starts with the All Hallows Stand: back-to-back games on Saturday and Sunday in Tampa and Carolina, respectively.
Tonight, it's St. Louis (no, not Marty, the city) and the Blues to final the Central Division road swing. Here's a question that won't be asked up front by fans but is something to wonder: will the shots-allowed count continue to be inflated or will the defensive effort step up now that it's had an extra day of rest? The Lightning has allowed 33, 36 and 32 shots on Ben Bishop and Kristers Gudlevskis respectively on this road trip. While Gudlevskis (lovingly nicknamed "Skittles" by Syracuse Crunch fans) had a fantastic .969 save percentage Saturday night in Chicago, banged up Ben Bishop was less fortunate in the shootout loss in Nashville (.879), though he rebounded in Winnipeg (.917). Still, allowing the glut of shots is part of what adds risk to giving up goals.
Yeah, defense doesn't sell tickets like offense does and you know the Lightning are capable of putting on one hell of a show on offense, yet one touted element of the Tampa Bay game is responsible two-way play. Shot blocking or limiting opponents shooting opportunities is something the club has to work on going forward.
Two lineup notes for the Lightning of weight:
- Cedric Paquette is likely out tonight. Head Coach Jon Cooper told reporters that it's related to the injury sufered in the preseason in Dallas.
- Brian Boyle hopes to be back in the lineup tonight, but it's not guaranteed. It's also not a sure thing the Lightning will go 11-7 with the lineup or make a recall if Boyle can't play.l We'll see as the afternoon progresses.