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St. Louis Blues at Tampa Bay Lightning: Can Tampa Bay take down another top NHL club?

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Cooper has a choice to make—maintain the 11/7 lineup or scratch Sergachev and return to the typical 12/6 alignment.

Rxlands

St. Louis Blues at Tampa Bay Lightning: GAME #5

Time: 7:00 Eastern Time

Location: Amalie Arena

Broadcast / Streaming: SUN, FS-MW

Opponent SBNation Site: St. Louis Game Time

Preview:

Both clubs played in the Sunshine State on Thursday night. Tampa Bay is coming off an impressive 5-4 win at home, defeating the defending Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins. St. Louis is coming off their first loss of the season, 5-2, at the hands of the Panthers down in Sunrise.

Both teams now only have one regulation loss. Tampa Bay sits tied for first in the Atlantic Division at 3-1-0, while St. Louis sits somehow alone in first place in the Central Division at 4-1-0, despite being decimated with injuries to begin the year.

Forwards Alex Steen, Robby Fabbri, Patrik Berglund, and Zach Sanford have all missed the opening five games of the year for St. Louis, as has defenseman Jay Bouwmeester. However, St. Louis still boasts a pretty deep lineup, especially with the emergence of rookie defenseman Vince Dunn, who potted his first career NHL goal Thursday night against the Panthers.

As for the Lightning, they have now put two consecutive full-game efforts together. The scoreline doesn’t reflect how much the Lightning dominated Pittsburgh on Thursday night. Ticky-tacky penalties allowed Pittsburgh to get back into the game, but Tampa Bay controlled play in the offensive zone and thwarted a ton of neutral zone pass attempts by the Pens.

It will be interesting to see if the Lightning continue utilizing the 11/7 alignment, which has worked very well for them the past two games against Washington and Pittsburgh. Sergachev, who played a season-low 5:22, was sat the entire second period in favor of the red-hot Slater Koekkoek. We will see if Sergachev gets the night off or if Cooper rolls out the same lineup.

Paquette is considered day-to-day. We will find out soon if he slots in tonight.

Comparison:

This game features two of the four highest-scoring clubs in the league at this point in the year. Tampa Bay ranks third in goals for with 18, and St. Louis sits one behind the Bolts in fourth with 17. On the flip side, both teams have given up their fare share of goals to start the year—15 against for the Lightning and 14 against for the Blues.

As were the Washington and Pittsburgh games, don’t be surprised if tonight’s battle becomes a back-and-forth, high-scoring affair. I’m sure the coaches would pray that this would not be the case, but it could make for some very entertaining hockey between two fast clubs, each of which features a sniping Russian winger.

Tampa Bay Lightning:

Forward Lines:

Vladislav Namestnikov — Steven Stamkos — Nikita Kucherov

Ondrej Palat — Brayden Point — Yanni Gourde

Chris Kunitz — Cedric Paquette — Ryan Callahan

Alex Killorn — Tyler Johnson

Defense Pairings:

Victor Hedman — Jake Dotchin

Mikhail Sergachev — Anton Stralman

Braydon Coburn — Dan Girardi

Slater Koekkoek

Goaltenders:

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Peter Budaj

Lineup Notes:

Cedric Paquette practiced in a regular jersey this morning, so it looks as if he’ll draw back in tonight.

St. Louis Blues:

Forward Lines:

Ivan BarbashevPaul StastnyVladimir Tarasenko

Jaden SchwartzBrayden SchennVladimir Sobotka

Magnus PaajarviOskar SundqvistDmitrij Jaskin

Scottie UpshallKyle BrodziakChris Thorburn

Defense Pairings:

Joel EdmundsonAlex Pietrangelo

Carl GunnarssonColton Parayko

Vince Dunn — Robert Bortuzzo

Goaltenders:

Jake Allen

Carter Hutton

Lineup Notes:

Blues’ 2016 1st rounder, Tage Thompson, was sent down to San Antonio of the AHL. The Blues’ 2014 6th rounder, Sam Blais, was subsequently called up. It remains to be seen if Blais makes his NHL debut.