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Panthers at Lightning preview: Marchessault returns

Jonathan Marchessault returns to Tampa in Panthers colors.

New Jersey Devils v Florida Panthers Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Florida Panthers at Tampa Bay Lightning: Game 3

Time: 7:30 pm Eastern Time

Location: Amalie Arena

Broadcast/Streaming: 560 WQAM, 640 WMEN, Lightning Radio, Sun, FS-F

Opponent SBNation Site: Litterbox Cats

Preview:

Two teams, both alike in possession stats, meet in Tampa tonight to decide which has its opening streak broken. In the Stanley Cup Hangover season (2015-16), Tampa won once and lost four times (once in OT) against the Panthers. With Tyler Johnson and Cedric Paquette completely recovered from their Stanley Cup Final injuries, will TBL be able to outwork this in-state rival?

The first two games of the season spawned some worry in fans that the team was going to consistently give up goals in the first period, and then spend the next two periods fighting to regain ground. Jon Cooper addressed these concerns at his presser earlier today:

[S]ome of these goals that have gone in against us are probably not your typical goals. I think — gosh, we gave up four against Detroit - and I think we put in two of ‘em and one went off the stanchion. And then the other night, we put in — I think we may have been — our stick was the last one to touch all those as well, including the one that didn’t count, that went off our stick again. [More]

The point could be made, however, that if Tampa had had possession of the puck, there wouldn't be an issue with bad bounces.

Here are a few more storylines to follow heading into tonight's game:

  • Jonathan Marchessault is returning to battle the team that gave him a solid chance. In his first two games for the Panthers, he garnered two goals and two assists filling in for an injured Jonathan Huberdeau. Is Steve Yzerman kicking himself for letting him walk? Here's why Tampa let him go:

It's not like Lightning GM Steve Yzerman didn't want him back, because he likes the player. But it's an example yet again of the salary-cap system and its impact, organizations can't horde talent, they can only keep so many guys. So while the Bolts saw the talent in Marchessault when most other teams did not, they're so loaded up front that keeping him as a depth guy was a luxury they couldn't have. [More]

Comparison:

Raw Charge writer Loserpoints chose to compare the teams’ league-wide rankings across several different possession metrics for the full season of 2015-16. Last season, the teams were fairly close together in most stats except for Corsi For per 60 (CF60), the measure of shots taken by each team per 60 minutes of play.

This season, however, those numbers are very similar. In the first two games, Bolts took 70 shots, and Cats took 72. One of the biggest changes in the off-season was to the Panthers’ front office — they brought in analytics-minded people who found players with strong possession numbers to help bolster their forward line. One of them, obviously, is Marchessault. How will this change the way the Panthers play? Will Tampa be able to properly defend against a team built to sustain puck possession?

In every other stat, especially Scoring Chances Against (SCA) and Shooting Percentage (Sh%), the teams were eerily similar last season. We’ll see how this plays out with the new Panthers lineup when the teams go head to head.

Previous game recap — Panthers: 4-1 home victory over Detroit

Previous game recap — Lightning: 3-2 comeback win over New Jersey

Tampa Bay Lightning

Forward Lines

Ondrej Palat - Steven Stamkos - Jonathan Drouin

Alex Killorn - Tyler Johnson - Nikita Kucherov

Vladislav Namestnikov - Valtteri Filppula - Brayden Point

Cedric Paquette - Brian Boyle - J.T. Brown

Defence Pairings

Victor Hedman - Anton Stralman

Jason Garrison - Andrej Sustr

Braydon Coburn, Nikita Nesterov and Slater Koekkoek rotating through

Goaltenders

Ben Bishop

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Florida Panthers

Forward Lines

Jonathan Marchessault - Aleksander Barkov - Jaromir Jagr

Jussi Jokinen - Vincent Trocheck - Reilly Smith

Jared McCann - Denis Malgin - Colton Sceviour

Greg McKegg - Derek MacKenzie - Shane Harper

Defence Pairings

Keith Yandle - Aaron Ekblad

Michael Matheson - Jason Demers

Mark Pysyk - Alex Petrovic

Goaltenders

James Reimer

Roberto Luongo

Line information will be updated in the Game Day Thread.