October 31st is a couple of things of relevance in North America in 2015. Of course it's Halloween and many will be busy wearing costumes or trick-or-treating. Parties will be had because, hey! It's Saturday night and today's dominated by costumes and candy anyway!
Today's also the end of daylight savings time, in case you didn't know. Time peels back one hour at 2 AM, those who went wild at Halloween parties will get an extra hour to recover from their stupor, and Raw Charge will stop posting "EDT" after the "When" at the top of our game previews and start using "EST" instead.
And we'll be doing it - writing a game day preview -- tomorrow, because that's another aspect of Saturday that's notable: it's the start of another back-to-back series for the Tampa Bay Lightning, who'll fly up to Raleigh and take on the Carolina Hurricanes Sunday evening as the start of a four game road jaunt this week. That's not exactly thrilling news to know: another back-to-back affair is here, while the Bolts are dealing with a banged up club.
Cedric Paquette's been mostly out of the lineup since sustaining a lower-body (leg) injury during the preseason, Brian Boyle has been dealing with the reoccurrence of an injury and has played through it as well as missed time by way of it. Thursday was gave us the surprising scratching of Jonathan Drouin from the Lightning lineup with thanks to a lower body injury, and yesterday afforded us the news of questionable status of Tyler Johnson for tonight's game against the Boston Bruins. Two of the top-six and two of the bottom-six ailing, along with who-knows how many other ailments members of the team are playing through.
It was stated post-practice this morning that Drouin and Paquette are both out for tonight and Johnson might be able to play. He's officially a game-time decision.
That sounds good up until you go back to the aspect this is back-to-back games they're playing. If Johnson goes tonight, he's less likely to do that if he further aggravates things against the physical play of the Bruins.... They happen to be on the flip side of their own back-to-back series. Boston was in Sunrise, taking down the high-flying Panthers and moving to 4th place in the division. That's a long way from the dregs of the division which the Bruins were mired in during the early going of the season. They're on a three game winning streak and they're also possibly lacking Brad Marchand from the lineup once again for a game against the Bolts. Questionable hits and Game Misconduct penalties can do that to you.
Tampa Bay has all of one goal in their last three games. That goes back to the depleted lineup and knowing two offensive cogs are iffy / out. It puts more weight on captain Steven Stamkos to be the one leading the offensive charge, but it's a tougher objective when he can be singled out as the guy that must be stopped in the lineup because the other notable goal-scorers are muted. Knowing Drouin is out of the lineup, Johnson is hurting and the offense needs a spark, might I request Nikita Kucherov play on Stamkos' right wing? Kucherov has been limited in his offensive contributions this season so far in part by the limitations of his line.