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Standard time, still; Tampa Bay Lightning at Arizona Coyotes preview

One last west coast game... Made possible by Arizona not switching to Daylight Savings Time.

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Where: Gila River Arena, Glendale, Arizona | When: 10 PM EDT
Radio: 970 AM WFLA | Television: Fox Sports Sun | Twitter: Live Stream
Opponent Coverage: Five for Howling

The state of Arizona does not play the Daylight Savings Time game. Their adherence to Mountain Time and the time shift for most of the United States and Canada helps to discombobulate the start time for tonight's Tampa Bay Lightning game against the Arizona Coyotes in Arizona. What would be a 9 PM start is instead slated for a 10 PM EDT start time while the Coyotes own web site shows the start time is slated for 7 PM. That's Mountain Time, 2 hours time difference from Eastern Time. Tack on the time shift and - BOOM! - we've got another Pacific Time Zone caliber start time even though the Bolts played out their west coast start times in early December and just after New Years back in January.  Huzzah! Celebrate it and thank the powers-that-be this is a weekend game, allowing you to sleep in tomorrow morning to make up for it if you stay up late tonight.

If you stay up late for it, very big if as the recent skid by the Lightning gives you reason to skip the game and do something else (date night, family night, movie night, foodie night, sleep tight, the choice is yours but choose it well). As you already know, the Bolts have transitioned from a 9 game winning streak (fluke) to a five out of the last six games played (Philly twice, Boston, Toronto and Dallas, while getting a victory in Columbus).

The Coyotes have an effective power play unit that is converting 19.1% percent of the time. The Lightning are nearing the league cellar regarding the man advantage - 16.6% conversion, bad enough for 26th place in the NHL on that ranking. Getting away from the subject of tonight and focusing on league rankings for a minute, there's a notable quirk regarding the power play in league rankings: All Canadian teams are in the bottom 10, with 6 of 7 teams making up 6 of the bottom 8 teams in the rankings. It seems odd that the team with the highest power play ranking of the 7 Canadian clubs is Edmonton, who has 74 games played and may end up dead-last in the league standings when the league bottom-dwellers catch up in games played...

["John, cut the crap! This isn't a Canadian team! This is Arizona! Get with it and tell us about the opponent and the state of the Lightning!!" Sorry, it's turning into a habit, isn't it?]

The Coyotes are one of those in-between clubs in a growing market. Don't let non-traditional market status fool you, or Gila River Arena's low attendance (29th ranked, 13,251 average turnouts), there's a showing of in-market devotion from the team toward Arizona and vice versa. It's part of why you should take the new arena chatter and college buildup seriously and not "we favor traditional market" relocation talk... and yes, it's out there still as it long has been, with non-traditional market clubs targeted with thanks to low attendance.

The Coyotes may be in 4th place in the Pacific Division, but that's not a telling sign of how well the club is performing as the division is a competitively-polarized place. The Los Angeles Kings, the division leaders, are 22 points on top of Arizona, who trails 3rd place's San Jose Sharks by 15 points too. The Coyotes are a game below .500 on the season (...if you subtract the 7 overtime/shootout losses from counting) and are on a 3 game winning streak.

Note that: wining three games in a row. How bizarre and foreign, isn't it? A team winning consistently... It seems like such an item from the distant past for Tampa Bay (while the truth is it's only been 2 weeks since things got displaced from consistent winning). The ‘Yotes being so close to .500 (and obviously not taking deliberately like other clubs) tells you there's weight to the game with thanks to the self-respect aspect achievement that is on the line tonight.

Defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson leads Arizona in scoring this season with 49 points (19 goals, 30 assists) while pro-rookie Max Domi is second on the team with 45 points to his name (17 goals, 29 assists) while captain Shane Doan is 3rd on the club with 43 points (25 goals, 18 assists).

One for the stories of the season for the Coyotes is in net, with former Lightning goalies Mike Smith and Anders Lindback taking their lumps and being knocked out of play. That's translated into Louis Domingue becoming the starter for Arizona, posting a 14-15-5 record with a .912 save percentage and a 2.71 GAA in 35 games total (32 were starts). He's tabbed to go between the pipes tonight for the ‘Yotes.

On the other side of the ice, Ryan Callahan and Cedric Paquette have physical issues - Cally being banged up and Paquette being sick (on top of his already banged up body). Consider both game-time decisions (head coach Jon Cooper told press as much) with Callahan more likely to be out. Meanwhile Valtteri Filppula is not ready to return, though he did participate in morning skate in a red, no contact jersey. Filp may need another week or more to recover. Take this as building likelihood for an 11 forward, 7 defenseman deployment for Tampa Bay tonight.

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