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Tampa Bay Lightning at Columbus Blue Jackets: Two Russian goaltenders go head-to-head

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Who will prevail for his club?

New York Islanders v Columbus Blue Jackets Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images

Tampa Bay Lightning @ Columbus Blue Jackets: GAME #8

Time: 7:00 Eastern Time

Location: Nationwide Arena

Broadcast / Streaming: SUN, FS—OH

Opponent SBNation Site: Jackets Cannon

Preview:

This game features two clubs that arguably made some of the biggest splashes in the off-season in terms of trades, with Columbus returning Brandon Saad to Chicago in exchange for superstar winger, Artemi Panarin, and the Lightning sending Jonathan Drouin for blue-chip defensive prospect, Mikhail Sergachev.

Columbus boasts one of the quickest and youngest lineups in the league with the likes of Alexander Wennberg, Josh Anderson, Pierre-Luc Dubois, Oliver Bjorkstrand, and Sonny Milano up front and Seth Jones, Zach Werenski, Gabriel Carlsson, and Ryan Murray on the back end. Not to mention, they enter tonight’s game on a four-game win streak.

Tampa Bay is playing their third game in four nights, and tonight’s matchup will wrap up their three-game road trip. The Bolts currently sport a five-game point streak. Both teams played on the road Tuesday night—the Lightning lost 5-4 in a shootout against the New Jersey Devils, and the Blue Jackets trounced the Winnipeg Jets 5-2.

This game features two of the most exciting teams in the East, in my opinion, as both teams play a fast-paced game. Personally, this matchup is my pick for the Eastern Conference Finals this year, but let’s not get too ahead of ourselves. This game will be a measuring stick for both clubs, as the Lightning look to wrap up their road trip with five of a possible six points.

Both clubs have only suffered one regulation loss—Columbus (5-1-0) and Tampa Bay (5-1-1). I am happy to report that I will be in attendance tonight cheering on the Bolts.

Comparison:

Although both teams play with incredible pace, I feel as if this game tonight will be a showcase for both Russian goaltenders. Sergei Bobrovsky is off to a ridiculous start in his first four games, having posted a 1.48 GAA and .952 save percentage, and coming off of his second Vezina trophy. The numbers for Vasilevskiy, on the other hand, are not by any means indicative of how well he has played for the Bolts thus far—3.00 GAA and .914 save percentage.

The Lightning are averaging a whopping 35 shots against per game—a number that must come down if the Bolts want to maintain the current five-game point streak and early season success they have enjoyed. The Jackets are averaging just over 30 shots against in their six matchups. However, Columbus has only given up 13 goals in their six games, as compared to 23 for the Bolts across their first seven.

Tampa Bay Lightning:

Forward Lines:

Vladislav Namestnikov — Steven Stamkos — Nikita Kucherov

Ondrej Palat — Brayden Point — Yanni Gourde

Chris Kunitz — Gabriel Dumont — Ryan Callahan

Alex Killorn — Tyler Johnson

Defense Pairings:

Victor Hedman — Jake Dotchin

Mikhail Sergachev — Anton Stralman

Braydon Coburn — Dan Girardi

Andrej Sustr

Goaltenders:

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Peter Budaj

Lineup Notes:

My guess is the Lightning continue to go with the 11/7 alignment. It has been working well of late.

Columbus Blue Jackets:

Forward Lines:

Artemi Panarin — Alexander Wennberg — Cam Atkinson

Sonny Milano — Nick Foligno — Oliver Bjorkstrand

Matt CalvertBrandon DubinskyJosh Anderson

Pierre-Luc Dubois — Lukas SedlakZac Dalpe

Defense Pairings:

Zach Werenski — Seth Jones

Jack JohnsonDavid Savard

Ryan Murray — Marcus Nutivaara

Goaltenders:

Sergei Bobrovsky

Joonas Korpisalo