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Updated: Tampa Bay Lightning at New Jersey Devils preview: Life without Kucherov

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The Kucherov-less Lightning travel to New Jersey to face the Devils and Taylor Hall.

Tampa Bay Lightning v New Jersey Devils Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

Bolts at Devils: GAME 7

Time: 7:00 pm Eastern Time

Location: Prudential Center

Broadcast/Streaming: Sun, MSG+

Opponent SBNation Site: All About the Jersey

Preview:

In a scheduling quirk, the Lightning will play the Devils three in times in the first month of the season. Tonight will be the second of the three meetings. Tampa won the first matchup on October 15th. In that game, the Devils jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead in the first five minutes but the Lightning came back scoring twice in the second and pulling ahead in the third.

The Lightning will enter the game without superstar winger Nikita Kucherov who suffered an upper body injury in a loss to the Canadiens on Thursday night. Before the season started, it looked like Kucherov might not be available for the opener as he was still in negotiations over a new contract. Now, fans will get to see what they worried they would see to begin the season.

Without Kucherov, Cory Conacher will likely make his first appearance of the season for Tampa. The Lightning signed the winger in the off-season. Many expected him to make the team out of camp as a replacement for the injured Ryan Callahan, but the accelerated development of Brayden Point pushed Conacher back to Syracuse where he has been playing well. With Kucherov’s injury, Conacher will get his chance to contribute to the big club.

The Devils come into the game having won two of their last three games. Their newly acquired star winger Taylor Hall seems to be finding his rhythm with a new team. He has three goals and five points total in the Devils’ last three games. The Devils are always solid defensively and with a dynamic player like Taylor Hall added to the mix, they will present a challenge for the Lightning.

Comparison chart:

The season is still young enough that we need a few more games to feel comfortable making meaningful statements based on the shot rates. But one interesting early trend is that both Tampa and New Jersey have generally struggled to create quality scoring chances but have done a great job of limiting scoring chances. So while generating scoring chances is always important, they are likely to be at a premium tonight and both teams will need to convert when they get a shot from a dangerous area.

Tampa Bay Lightning

Forward Lines

Alex Killorn - Steven Stamkos - Vlad Namestnikov

Ondrej Palat - Tyler Johnson - Jonathan Drouin

J.T. Brown - Valtteri Filppula - Brayden Point

Cedric Paquette - Brian Boyle - Cory Conacher

Defence Pairings

Victor Hedman - Anton Stralman

Jason Garrison - Andrej Sustr

Braydon Coburn - Nikita Nesterov

Goaltenders

Ben Bishop

Andrei Vasilevskiy

New Jersey Devils

Forward Lines

Taylor Hall - Travis Zajac - Kyle Palmieri

Mike Camalleri - Adam Henrique - Devonte Smith-Pelley

Beau Bennett - Pavel Zacha - P.A Parenteau

Sergey Kalinin - Vernon Fiddler - Nick Lappin

Defence Pairings

Andy Greene - Damon Severson

Yohann Auvitu - Ben Lovejoy

John Moore - Kyle Quincey

Goaltenders

Keith Kinkaid

Cory Schneider

Pre-game skate update:

After the pre-game skate this morning, the following interesting tidbits were tweeted: