Tampa Bay Lightning (19-18-4) at Pittsburgh Penguins (25-8-5) - Game 41
Time: 5:00 pm EST
Location: PPG Paints Arena, Pittsburgh, PA
Opponent SB Nation Site: Pensburgh
The previous Eastern Conference Final foes find themselves at quite different points in their seasons. One continues to vie for another title. One stumbles its way night after night struggling to amass wins.
The Penguins and Lightning under head coaches Mike Sullivan and Jon Cooper have had similar player personnel and strategies. Strong offensive power, great goaltending, and fast, possession based games have led the teams to success. Yet once the formula runs out, what happens?
Coach Jon Cooper, Rick Bowness, and the crew have come under scrutiny recently for the teams questionable play. Trust the process and stay the course, or adjust coaching habits and decisions?
If you are a fan of the Bolts you know that Cooper is stubborn and sticks to old ways. The NHL is constantly evolving, and for once under Cooper’s tenure the Bolts aren’t up to speed. This is no calling to oust the current bench boss, yet it seems it may be the time for the coaching staff to swallow their doubts and show some humility.
There is a lot that could take place between now and the end of the season. Whether those events are trades to bolster a surging Bolts team late in the season, or the more likely outcome of selling the veterans to make some cap space/draft picks, I almost appreciate the widespread panic in the Bolts fandom. Jeff Vinik and company have created such a culture of winning that we as Bolts fans got spoiled.
The game today has the ability to have some fireworks. The teams now have a history between them. Whether it was last year in the playoffs or even in 2011 (although the roster has turned significantly since then), when the Pens and Bolts get together it usually is an exciting game. Let’s hope the Bolts can squeak out an unlikely win against an eastern conference powerhouse.
Tampa Bay Lightning
Ondrej Palat - Tyler Johnson - Nikita Kucherov
Jonathan Drouin - Valtteri Filppula - Ryan Callahan
Matthew Peca - Vladislav Namestnikov - Alex Killorn
Adam Erne - ?? - ??
Victor Hedman - Anton Stralman
Jason Garrison - Andrej Sustr
Braydon Coburn - Slater Koekkoek
Conor Sheary - Sidney Crosby - Bryan Rust
Carl Hagelin - Evgeni Malkin - Patric Hornqvist
Chris Kunitz - Nick Bonino - Phil Kessel
Scott Wilson - Matt Cullen - Eric Fehr
Trevor Daley - Kris Letang
Ian Cole - Justin Schultz
Olli Maatta - Steven Oleksy