Matchup: Tampa Bay Lightning at Carolina Hurricanes
Time: 5:00 pm Eastern Time
Location: PNC Arena, Raleigh, North Carolina
Broadcast/Streaming: Fox Sports Carolinas, Sun Sports
Opponent SBNation Site: Canes Country
The Lightning won via shootout last night over the Washington Capitals. The first great thing about that win is that it was a win, which the Lightning needed very much. The second great thing about that win is that it was just the sort of win that allows everyone to continue to push the narrative they favored going into the game.
You think the Lightning are perfectly fine and the recent stretch of losses is just a low point in a long season for a team that is more concerned about May and June? Perfect. That game proves it. They found a way to squeak one out against one of the best teams in the league and looked better than they have recently in doing so. They looked better in their own end and limited the big mistakes that had plagued them recently. They even put together some of the dangerous counter attacks with speed that we’ve come to expect over the last few seasons. Clearly, they were more motivated to play against another of the top teams in the Eastern Conference and that’s exactly what we can expect to see in the playoffs.
You think the Lightning have legitimate issues that shouldn’t be ignored and aren’t going to be fixed by just waiting for the spring to arrive? Perfect. That game proves it. While they won the game, their only goal came on the power play. And while they did score at 5v4, they once again took too many penalties against one of the best power plays in the league ultimately leading to the tying goal for Washington. The Lightning also trailed on the shot clock and while they had more expected goals at 5v5, Washington finished with the lead in all situations, which again points to the issue of taking too many penalties. Clearly, they are relying far too heavily on their newly improved power play to keep them in games instead of replicating previous seasons’ success at 5v5.
No matter from which side of the fence you’ll be watching today’s game, you’ll be seeing the Lightning take on the Carolina Hurricanes who currently sit seventh in the Metro. That seems like a harsh fate for a team that measures out pretty well by most statistics including being fourth in the league in shots for percentage (the Lightning are 19th.) The Canes struggles could be partially due to some rough luck as they currently sit 29th in the league in PDO. Their struggles aren’t driven completely by poor goaltending or poor shooting but a little bit of both. If they keep playing they way they’ve played all season, one would expect them to eventually see some better results.
The Hurricanes are without one of their best forwards in Jordan Staal who suffered a concussion last week that has landed him on IR. One player they’ll be hoping can pick up some of that slack is Sebastian Aho. The 19 year old winger been earning more time in the lineup as the season progresses. He hasn’t quite found his scoring touch with just three primary points on the season at 5v5 and seven points overall at 5v5 but he has shown signs of getting more involved in the offense, which is a great sign for Carolina.
Tampa Bay Lightning
Ondrej Palaat - Tyler Johnson - Nikita Kucherov
Alex Killorn - Valtteri Filppula - Brayden Point
Michael Bournival - Vladislav Namestnikov - Brian Boyle
Joel Vermin - Cedric Paquette - Jonathan Drouin
Victor Hedman - Anton Stralman
Braydon Coburn - Luke Witkowski
Slater Koekkoek - Andrej Sustr
Jeff Skinner - Victor Rask - Phillip Di Giuseppe
Sebastian Aho - Teuvo Teravainen - Lee Stempniak
Brock McGinn - Derek Ryan - Andrej Nestrasil
Joakim Nordstrom - Jay McClement - Viktor Stalberg
Ron Hainsey - Justin Faulk
Jacob Slavin - Brett Pesce
Noah Hanifin - Matt Tennyson
Line information will be updated in the Game Day Thread.