Time: 7:30 Eastern Time
Location: Amalie Arena
Broadcast / Streaming: SUN, ATTSN-PT, TVAS, SN360
Opponent SBNation Site: Pensburgh
The Lightning and Penguins will meet for the first of three regular season matchups this year. Tampa Bay will host the Pens next Saturday, October 21, and finish the 3-game season series in Pittsburgh on November 25th.
Tampa Bay hasn’t experienced much success against this club in the regular season in years past, and will look to reverse this trend against a tired Penguins team who just completed a game against the Washington Capitals last night. I’m admittedly surprised that they have a back-to-back scheduled in two different states, but maybe this is some tough love from the NHL’s scheduling department after two Cup-winning seasons.
Tampa Bay currently sits in second place in the Atlantic Division with a record of 2-1-0, potting 13 goals to go along with 11 goals against. Pittsburgh sits in third place in the Metropolitan Division, at 2-1-1, having scored 12 goals, while giving up 17. Recently they had a 4-0 shutout win at home in a rematch of the 2017 Stanley Cup Final. Most people will remember the shellacking they endured at the hands of the Chicago Blackhawks last Thursday, a 10-1 defeat in the Windy City.
As for the Lightning, they are coming off a galvanizing win in which some early puck luck for the Capitals was not enough to secure the win for Ovechkin’s club. Although the sample size is small, that was Tampa Bay’s most complete game by a landslide. Everybody was firing on all cylinders, and I really, really loved the line of Kunitz—Paquette—Callahan (although Paquette has taken two body maintenance days so far this week). If the Lightning can continue to put an effort together like they did on Monday, the NHL is in for a scare.
As an aside, I was not a fan of the 11/7 alignment chosen by the coaching staff. I figured it out after the game, when I realized that Slater Koekkoek had only played 3:09 over 6 shifts. Yes, 3:09.
Tonight’s game will likely be decided by the special teams battle, especially with the dynamic offensive firepower that each of these clubs possesses. The Lightning have only killed off 9 of their 12 penalties (75% efficiency), while the Penguins have only allowed one goal on 15 attempts by their opposition (93% efficiency). It will be up to both clubs to limit the amount of infractions that each commits, especially with the rule change and subsequent crackdown on “slashing.” Neither team, however, has scored a shorthanded goal thus far this season.
Tampa Bay Lightning:
Vladislav Namestnikov — Steven Stamkos — Nikita Kucherov
Ondrej Palat — Brayden Point — Yanni Gourde
Alex Killorn — Tyler Johnson
Chris Kunitz — Gabriel Dumont? — Ryan Callahan
Victor Hedman — Jake Dotchin
Mikhail Sergachev — Anton Stralman
Braydon Coburn — Dan Girardi
Per Joe Smith, the Bolts may opt for the 11/7 alignment once again. If this is the case, Koekkoek needs to play more than 3:09. Give the kid at least 8 minutes, but I’m certain that he could handle 10+, if given the chance.
Cooper confirmed Paquette will miss tonight's game. "I don't see this as a long term thing. It may be just tonight." #Bolts— Bryan Burns (@BBurnsNHL) October 12, 2017
Would think Dumont takes Paquette's spot on 4th line tonight #tblightning— Joe Smith (@TBTimes_JSmith) October 12, 2017
Jake Guentzel — Sidney Crosby — Bryan Rust
Carl Hagelin — Evgeni Malkin — Phil Kessel
Conor Sheary — Greg McKegg — Patric Hornqvist
Tom Kuhnhackl — Carter Rowney — Ryan Reaves
Brian Dumoulin — Kris Letang
Matt Hunwick — Justin Schultz
Olli Määttä — Chad Ruhwedel
Defenseman Ian Cole, who took a gnarly shot by Roman Josi to the choppers in their win over the weekend, might not play tonight. Chad Ruhwedel could step in and take his place. For those who are big fans of blood, like myself, here’s a picture of Cole’s condition via his Twitter (warning: lots of blood).
I’d imagine Niemi gets the start, considering Murray played in Pittsburgh’s game last night.