Time: 7:00 Eastern Time
Location: Nationwide Arena
Broadcast / Streaming: SUN, FS—OH
Opponent SBNation Site: Jackets Cannon
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.
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:
Vladislav Namestnikov — Steven Stamkos — Nikita Kucherov
Ondrej Palat — Brayden Point — Yanni Gourde
Chris Kunitz — Gabriel Dumont — Ryan Callahan
Alex Killorn — Tyler Johnson
Victor Hedman — Jake Dotchin
Mikhail Sergachev — Anton Stralman
Braydon Coburn — Dan Girardi
My guess is the Lightning continue to go with the 11/7 alignment. It has been working well of late.
If Paquette can't go, expect Dumont in for him. Brown, Koekkoek still on ice, likely scratched again. So Sustr would be 7th D #tblightning— Joe Smith (@TBTimes_JSmith) October 19, 2017
Columbus Blue Jackets:
Artemi Panarin — Alexander Wennberg — Cam Atkinson
Sonny Milano — Nick Foligno — Oliver Bjorkstrand
Matt Calvert — Brandon Dubinsky — Josh Anderson
Pierre-Luc Dubois — Lukas Sedlak — Zac Dalpe
Zach Werenski — Seth Jones
Jack Johnson — David Savard
Ryan Murray — Marcus Nutivaara