clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Tales from the Q; Tampa Bay Lightning versus Colorado Avalanche preview

New, comment

Expectations, bust labels and finding your way in and to the NHL>

If you buy something from an SB Nation link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Where: Amalie Arena, Tampa, Florida | When: 7:30 PM EDT
Radio: 970 AM WFLA | Television: Sun Sports | Twitter: Live Stream
Opponent Coverage: Mile High Hockey

This tandem of dudes was really well received some years ago. One was a center, the other was his wing, and they put on a show in juniors with their Quebec Major Junior Hockey League team. They both were chosen in the same draft year, but only one was an immediate participant in the NHL while the other returned to the Q. Some actually called the one returned as a bust who was only successful because of the guy he had played with.

I'm referencing two draft years here, not one. There are probably others in NHL history that can be cited in the same fashion, too.

There is a pair of differences between the 1998 draft and the 2013 draft with teammates and their drafting: Vincent Lecavalier went first overall but his linemate, Brad Richards, wasn't chosen until the 3rd round. The draft class of 2013 had linemates Nathan MacKinnon and Jonathan Drouin touted as high-high picks who were taken a spot apart.

Richards was not embraced as a player in the same fashion as Drouin was, so both heading back to the QMJHL for more seasoning were received in different ways. Both shifted to the center position, but similarities stop there. Richards played two full seasons with Rimouski while Drouin only played one post-draft season in the Q.. Richards won the Memorial Cup with Rimouski in his final season in junior hockey (1999-00) while Drouin did it during his draft season (2012-13) with linemate Nathan MacKinnon part of the squad.

Brad Richards and Vinny Lecavalier were one hell of a tandem, part of why you'd sometimes see them together on the power play with the Lightning during the 00s. The two centers are nearing the end of their careers (Richards is shelved with a back injury for the Detroit Red Wings while Lecavalier is suffering the Philadelphia Flyers in the same way he suffered under Rick Tocchet in Tampa; we don't push Free Vinny for nothing). Nathan MacKinnon and Jonathan Drouin are just at the beginning.

MacKinnon, now in his third NHL season, came out with the Colorado Avalanche supporting him when he started his career, getting him to 24 goals and 39 assists in the 82 games of his rookie season, he was also a plus-20 in 2013-14.  Last season, the first the two former teammates shared in the league, Mac's stats hit the sophomore slump: 64 games played, 6 less than his marred buddy Drouin, 14 goals (10 more than Drouin) and 24 assists (4 less than Drouin). His plus-minus was minus-7, which should give you an indication how Colorado in general was playing last season (they finished last in the Central Division last season with a 39-31-12 record, finishing 11th in the Western Conference).

Moving to the moment, to the now, Drouin has graduated to the Bolts top line while MacKinnon anchors down the Avalanche's 2nd line. The two's individual points for the season are a single point apart though MacKinnon has a better scoring pace than Drouin (Mac has 3 goals and 4 assists in 8 games while Drouin has a single goal and 5 assists in 10).

Suffice it to say, tonight at the Amalie could be a showcase of the 2013 Halifax Mooseheads top stars, playing on opposite clubs who could both use a win (and some scoring).  Tampa Bay has been shut out twice while the Avs have dropped their past three games and been outscored 9-4. Two of those losses were to bottom dwelling clubs in the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Carolina Hurricanes. It's also the first of back-to-back games for Colorado, who will venture to Raleigh and play the Hurricanes tomorrow evening.

For the Lightning, Jonathan Marchessault is expected to be recalled by the club.  As of morning skate, Marchessault hadn't arrived in Tampa yet. Who he's replacing in the lineup isn't clear though two players are of the questionable status - Cedric Paquette and Brian Boyle. Both players are hurting but Boyle was seen at morning skate and participated on the 4th line as center.

Also during morning skate sessions, it was Brayden Coburn who seemed to have 7th defenseman designation while sharing drill practice with top-pair defensemen Victor Hedman and Anton Stralman.

Other Coverage