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Tampa Bay Lightning at Florida Panthers: Battle of Florida Round 2

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The Lightning head south to face the Panthers for the second half of a home-and-home back-to-back.

NHL: Preseason-Tampa Bay Lightning at Florida Panthers Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

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

Preview:

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

Forward Lines

Namestnikov - Stamkos - Kucherov

Palat - Point - Gourde

Killorn - Johnson - Callahan

Kunitz - Paquette - Dumont

Defense Pairings

Hedman - Girardi

Sergachev - Stralman

Coburn - Sustr

Goaltenders

Peter Budaj

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Opponent lines

Forward Lines

Huberdeau - Barkov - Dadonov

McGinn - Trocheck - Vrbata

Brickley - McCann - Bjugstad

Haley - Mackenzie - Sceviour

Defense Pairings

Yandle - Ekblad

Matheseon - Pysyk

McCoshen - Petrovic

Goalies

James Reimer

Roberto Luongo