The three day break between games is over. You can rejoice in the notion a trial-by-fire commences with three games in four nights for the Tampa Bay Lightning starting tonight with the Los Angeles Kings. The Bolts will square off with the Washington Capitals on Friday night and New York Islanders on Saturday... And then head to California to start the month of December.
First thing is first though and that's the Kings, who are tied for the lead in the Pacific Division with 26 points at this juncture (the San Jose Sharks are who they're tied with for the division lead). They're 6-4-0 in their past 10 games and 1-2-0 in their past three. Those two losses came by way of the Detroit Red Wings and Carolina Hurricanes. The latter loss was the first half of back-to-back games - they knocked around the Florida Panthers the next night in a 4-1 win. So, in short, this is the 3rd game in 4 nights and 4th game in 6 nights total for the Kings. The Bolts and Kings will also complete their season series in 11 days on December 6th at Staples Center.
Jeff Carter leads the Kings in points with 20 (9 goals, 11 assists) while Tyler Toffoli leads the club in goals (11). Anze Kopitar has 7 goals and... well, that's a notable link between the two clubs. Anze Kopitar is a major pending unrestricted free agent in the NHL, with his contract expiring this summer. There's this guy on the Lightning who wears #91 and this "C" letter on his chest that's also a pending UFA.
There are differences between Kopitar and Stamkos, such as the fact Kopitar has been in the NHL 3 more seasons than Stammer (he was drafted in 2005), and has just over 100 more points in his career (in the assist column). Both players will be sought-after commodities if they reach July 1 without a new contract... They also could find themselves moved at the 2016 NHL trade deadline on February 29th if no deal is in place between them and their current clubs.
Speaking of the contract talks, Newport Sports Agency had a number of representatives at Amalie Arena this morning, including Don Meehan who represents Steven Stamkos. No word as of this writing if something is close between Tampa Bay and Stammer. Stay tuned.
Tyler Johnson is a game-time decision for the Lightning but coach Jon Cooper says TJohnny is due to return to the lineup before the club departs for California. Johnson and Jonathan Drouin as well, partook in today's optional morning skate at the Amalie. Drouin skated in a regular jersey and not a red, no-contact jersey.