Where: Amalie Arena, Tampa, Florida | When: 7:30 PM EST
Radio: 970 AM WFLA | Television:
Sun Sports Fox Sports Sun | Twitter: Live Stream
Opponent Coverage: Matchsticks & Gasoline, Flames Nation, Calgary Puck
The skating was optional at the Amalie this morning - only 10 players laced up to morning skate, as well as both netminders in Ben Bishop and Andrei Vasilevskiy. It'll likely be Ben Bishop starting between the pipes for the Lightning. The big story of the day so far is attached to goal but it's not a roster player of note.
Goalie Kevin Poulin has been traded by the Tampa Bay Lightning to tonight's opponent, the Calgary Flames, for future considerations. No, Poulin is not starting in net for the Flames tonight - he's been assigned to the Stockton Heat of the AHL; that suggests there are longer-term injuries on the Flames in the crease and the need for depth outweighs the need for "future considerations".
Jonas Hiller is the Flames #1 netminder, or at least was, and is on injured reserve. In 7 games with the Flames his GAA was large (3.67) and his save percentage was miserable (.861). Both stand as testaments of how tough the going had been for the Flames to start the season. The club is still in the basement of the Pacific Division, but it's 5-10-1 record and 11 points is not as atrocious as Toronto's 3-8-4, dead last in the NHL.
Without Hiller, there's a good chance former Tampa Bay Lightning netminder Karri Ramo gets the start in net for the Flames tonight. Ramo was actually relegated to the AHL earlier this season, only making 1 start for the Heat and basically shutting down opposition. His numbers with the Flames, though, reflects just how weak the club is on defense: 3.60 GAA and a .887 save percentage which is basically the same as what Hiller was producing, just with a stronger save percentage. Slightly stronger.
Mind you, it's not all a horror show out of Alberta. The Flames are stocked with some great young talent in Sean Monahan (4 goals, 7 assists), Johnny Gaudreau (4 goals, 13 assists) and Sam Bennett (3 goals, 6 assists) along with other talent, but when defense is suspect and the team reflects issues by way of a weak plus/minus... Well, scoring be damned. You have to stop opponents before you can top opponents with offensive output.
This makes the game a question mark, doesn't it? Tampa Bay has struggled to score - primary or secondary scoring for that matter - while the Flames are both producing and giving up buckets of them (40 goals-for, 63 goals-against). Just don't make the mistake of reading that as a gimmie-game situation; Calgary is 4-5-1 in their last 10 while the Lightning are 3-6-1 in that span... opponent quality might be different in that time but the results say enough to underline the fact there is no gimmie game, you have to earn that W.