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The question, the contest; Tampa Bay Lightning at Chicago Blackhawks game 3 preview

Bishop and Johnson, go or no go in game 3 of the Stanley Cup Finals?

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David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Where: United Center, Chicago, Illinois
When: 8 PM EDT | Tickets: Check availability
Media: NBC Sports Net (cable) | 970 AM WFLA (radio) | Twitter Live Stream
Opponent Coverage: Second City HockeyThe Committed Indian

The Lightning snapped a three game losing streak at Amalie Arena with their game 2 win over the Blackhawks on Saturday night. The Bolt shad been pretty strong during the season at home, going 32-8-1 while they were rocky on the road (18-16-7), which somewhat emphasizes the head scratching (but fortunate) contradiction that they'll be playing at United Center tonight while on a  three-game winning streak on the road (games 2, 5, and 7 at Madison Square Garden) and an overall 7-3 record on the road with single losses in all three previous rounds of the playoffs (game 3 against Detroit, game 5 against Montreal and game 1 against the Rangers). On the other side of the fence, the Blackhawks have been a dominate 6-2 at home during the playoffs.

Strong on the road versus strong at home... It looks like we may just have another tight contest in store for tonight; a tight contest between the two conference champions; a game that may or may not feature Ben Bishop in goal for the Lightning. The tale since his game 2 departure has been the question on his status. Bishop did participate in the optional morning skate at United Center but unless otherwise stated, I expect the goalie's status to remain in question until warm-ups or even game time. That's not because of serious doubt as so much wanting to keep the opponent guessing.

The summary of Ben Bishop's post morning-skate press availability further accentuates that fact.

One question worth noting for the morning skate was the absence of Tyler Johnson. While four forward lines skated in the morning skate, it was Vladislav Namestnikov who centered the Bolts second line in place of Johnson. Seeing this was an optional skate, you can't read into this as Johnson being out of the lineup this evening... It also doesn't shut the door on the idea of Johnson being out of the lineup for tonight.

The challenge for the Lightning tonight is the same one they faced on Saturday in Tampa and one the club should have been stronger with last Wednesday: Taking the lead and  building on it instead of retracting into a defense-first scheme that Chicago can overcome. The tit-for-tat show of offense on Saturday was exciting to watch, but letting Chicago tie the game in the 2nd and giving them the lead shortly thereafter had the potential to derail the Lightning and sap the club of morale. The Lightning had the same double-lapse late in game 1 to conceded the game; with only a 1 goal lead to protect and lapsing into a prevent defense seemed to welcome Chicago to take the game away from the Bolts.  Which they did, and quite happily.

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