The four game road swing for the Lightning ends this evening way up in the gopher state of Minnesota. The Bolts took 2 of 3 games so far in the road series... Just don't expect a gimmie-game against the Wild tonight. That's a disrespect, an insult, and tells the story of disconnect between the two markets - we don't have to care much about the Wild and I doubt what Tampa Bay is doing registers much of a blip day-to-day for Wild Fans.
The Wild have three games in-hand on the Lightning (which seems to be a repeated fact throughout the league - teams with games in-hand), but they've taken home 16 points in those 12 games played. The Wild's offense is also firing on all cylinders at the top as Mikko Koivu, Ryan Sutter, Thomas Vanek and Jason Zucker all have 10 points on the season or more. The Lightning only has two with double-digit points at the moment (Steven Stamkos and Victor Hedman).
Another telling stat, though, is goal differential. Minnesota may have scored as many goals this season as the Lightning have given up (37) but they've also allowed 35 in those 12 games played up to this point - 2.916 goals per-game allowed while scoring 3.08. The Lightning, on the other hand, is giving up 2.46 goals per game while their recent struggles on offense are stressed in the fact they've on-average scored 2.53. If the Bolts can turn up the offense a notch, they have a shot in this game... but if Tampa Bay continues its woeful shots performance that's followed the club all season (they average 27.3 SOG per game, ranked 29th in the NHL) they'll have issues. Yet Minnesota hasn't had problems limiting opponents' shot-attempts; they average 27.1 shots allowed per game, ranking them 27th in the league in the category.
The Bolts are 17th in the league with 29.2 shots allowed per-game on average.
Devan Dubnyk gets the start for the Wild in net, and while his GAA plays along with the goals-allowed numbers for the wild (2.63), his save percentage makes you do a double take. .896? That is a testament on how sturdy the defense is in front of Dubyk, if he's 7-3-1 but holds a sub-.900 save percentage.
Outside of the crease, Wild forward Zach Parise is "week to week" with a MCL injury and will obviously not be playing tonight. He has 7 goals and 2 assists in the 12 games he's appeared in this season.