Team at Team: GAME 2
Time: 7:00 pm Eastern Time
Location: BB&T Arena, Sunrise, Fl
Broadcast/Streaming: SunS, FSFL
Opponent SBNation Site: Litter Box Cats
The Tampa Bay Lightning head a couple hours south tonight to finish the second half of a season opening home and home back-to-back against the in-state rival Florida Panthers. While last night’s game was certainly entertaining, the Bolts will look to find more consistency tonight in their second game of the season. Getting outshot 51-32 isn’t a recipe for long term success. The team knows that and they’ll likely need to be much better than that if they hope to start the year with a winning streak.
Credit for last night’s win goes largely to the Bolts’ top six forward group and the second pairing of Anton Stralman and Mikhail Sergachev. In order to improve on last night, the team will need better performances from the rest of the roster. Much of the improvement needs to start on the blue line. The Lightning struggled when either Dan Girardi or Andrej Sustr were on the ice. Victor Hedman couldn’t find a rhythm with either player and Braydon Coburn was unable to carry Sustr as he did at the end of last season.
Lightning head coach Jon Cooper does have a potential fix available to him. Jake Dotchin was scratched last night. While the team didn’t give a specific reason, it could be due to him only playing in one preseason game because of a suspension. If the coaches think he’s ready to reenter the lineup, adding him back on the top pair where he had success playing with Hedman last season and bumping Girardi to the third pair with Coburn could help stabilize the blue line. We’ll keep an eye out through the morning and in pre-game to see if the team shows any indication of a change.
The other potential big difference from last night could be the goalies. Most teams choose not to play goalies back to back nights and doing so this early in the season seems particularly unnecessary. Andrei Vasilevskiy faced a barrage of shots and asking him to play again less than 24 hours later before he’s fully adjusted to being back in-season doesn’t seem wise.
If we see the second goalies for both teams, we could see another high scoring game. Neither James Reimer for Florida nor Peter Budaj for Tampa are high end backups. For Tampa, that means the defensive lapses we saw all night on Friday are likely to be more costly and getting outshot to the same degree would almost certainly lead to a loss.
The top six, second pair, and the goalie carried the team last night. If the Bolts want another win, they’ll need the rest of the squad to contribute tonight in Sunrise.
Tampa Bay Lightning
Namestnikov - Stamkos - Kucherov
Palat - Point - Gourde
Killorn - Johnson - Callahan
Kunitz - Paquette - Dumont
Hedman - Girardi
Sergachev - Stralman
Coburn - Sustr
Huberdeau - Barkov - Dadonov
McGinn - Trocheck - Vrbata
Brickley - McCann - Bjugstad
Haley - Mackenzie - Sceviour
Yandle - Ekblad
Matheseon - Pysyk
McCoshen - Petrovic