Tampa Bay Lightning at Anaheim Ducks: GAME #18
Time: 8:00 pm Eastern Time
Location: Honda Center
Broadcast/Streaming: PRIME, SUN
Opponent SBNation Site: Anaheim Calling
Last we saw Anaheim, they were handing the Tampa Bay Lightning their first home loss of the season. The Ducks beat the Bolts 4-1 on October 28 at Amalie, on the back of excellent goaltending from John Gibson and a hot Rikard Rakell who had two goals on the night. The Ducks faced Peter Budaj; they'll be facing Andrei Vasilevskiy tonight, and perhaps that will make a bit of difference.
The kind of play that haunted the Bolts last time they met was sloppiness in connecting passes and an inability to gain the offensive zone. The passing was simply off -- and hopefully for Tampa, that issue has been cleared up. Take, for example, Alex Killorn's pass on Stamkos's powerplay goal against the LA Kings a few days ago. When the Bolts aren't clicking, Killorn would have probably bobbled the pass, or Stamkos would have been just slightly too far forward to grab it and send it home.
Sadly, the Bolts will likely face John Gibson in net tonight. Last game, he was the MVP:
John Gibson was a highly touted goaltending prospect not too long ago. He was expected to a a legitimate goaltender in the NHL, and tonight (and this season) Gibson has shown it. The only puck that got past him was due to a scramble, that’s it. If he could see it he stopped it. If he could hear it he stopped it.
Gibson was the biggest reason why Anaheim won this game and it isn’t that surprising that he put forth an effort like this one. His previous game against Florida was a nightmare, and good goalies shake off bad losses with exceptional bounce-backs. Tampa was the bounce-back for Gibson this evening.
Just watch the recap of the game and you will see the impressive saves Gibson made all night. He stoned Yanni Gourde and JT Brown in close. He thwarted numerous shots from the Stamkos line and made it all seem effortless.
But will this play continue tonight? Will Rakell still have a hot stick? Will the Bolts be buoyed by two victories, and decide they can take the night off? Hopefully the answers to these questions are yes, no, and no.
Fear the Fin’s managing editor Sie Nicole scouted her favorite rival team for us.
Five Questions with Fear the Fin about their rivals
RC: I notice from the lineup notes that Ryan Kesler, Ryan Getzlaf, Patrick Eaves, and Ondrej Kase are on IR. Which of these players is it nicest to see off the ice, and who has stepped up to fill their shoes?
Sie: Kesler, easily. I don't think any team in the league is excited to see that guy on the ice. No Kesler means you're only worrying about like, six guys taking out your knees instead of seven. Getzlaf is equally annoying and more of an offensive threat, so he's a huge loss for the Ducks. After the last time we saw them, seeing Kase out of the line up feels a little bit like justice, as he took a couple dirty shots at Logan Couture. We see the worst of these guys, so it's difficult to be too upset about any of them being out (though, in all seriousness, best wishes to Patrick Eaves).
RC: You see the Ducks five times a year. What part of their play this season is especially dangerous, and how do you recommend that the Bolts shut it down?
Sie: The Ducks have always been known for being a physical team and seeing them five times a year means we get it harder than anyone else. They're big, bruising guys, but more frustrating than that is that they can actually score, and they'll score on you in ways that make you feel stupid. Speed against these guys is important. The biggest thing is to not let them get under your skin, because this is a team that specializes in doing just that.
RC: How do you feel about the Ducks' goaltending situation?
Sie: The worst thing the Ducks did was get Ryan Miller because the dude has a frustrating record against San Jose, going 10-8-2 with a .923 save percentage in 20 games against us. Tampa Bay is likely just as disappointed to see Miller -- in 32 games, he's gone 22-10-0, with a .911 save percentage. We'll probably see Miller a lot this season, assuming his groin injury isn't serious. John Gibson is starting tonight and hardly stands out in my mind as a game-changing goalie. Reto Berra would get absolutely lit up by the Lightning's offense -- he got totally embarassed by a glorified San Jose Barracuda line up during the preseason.
RC: How well does the defense deal with speedy forwards?
Sie: This is a big team that throws heavy hits, but don't let that fool you. They can be sneaky fast. If you can get to a one-on-one situation, the goaltending shouldn't be difficult to exploit, but they won't give you a lot of those chances. The Sharks' speedier youth were pretty effectively shut down in our last meeting and our only goal in regulation was netted by Joel Ward, a noted slow skater on this roster. You can't bank on the slick offense, you have to go in and get the dirty goals here, too.
RC: Should Kevin Bieksa spend more time trying to be better at hockey and less time dressing up as a security guard?
Sie: I mean, the Ducks are just teaching him to do what they do best: make other hockey players mad. (But seriously, 35 penalty minutes in 11 games so far? Yikes, bud.)
Thank you, Sie!
The Lightning’s results continue to outpace their performance in shot and expected goal share, but the improvement in their performance over the last ten games is notable. The penalty kill in particular has has been outstanding. That will be an interesting matchup to watch tonight as the Ducks have been one of the better teams in the league at generating dangerous chances on the power play.
Tampa Bay Lightning
Vladislav Namestnikov - Steven Stamkos - Nikita Kucherov
Ondrej Palat - Brayden Point - Yanni Gourde
Chris Kunitz - Tyler Johnson - Ryan Callahan
Alex Killorn - Gabriel Dumont - JT Brown (? - might be out for 11/7)
Victor Hedman - Jake Dotchin
Mikhail Sergachev - Anton Stralman
Braydon Coburn - Dan Girardi
Slater Koekkoek - Andrej Sustr
Rickard Rackell - Derek Grant - Corey Perry
Andrew Cogliano - Chris Wagner - Jakob Silfverberg
Dennis Rasmussen - Antoine Vermette - Logan Shaw
Nick Ritchie - Kalle Kossila - Kevin Roy
Hampus Lindholm - Josh Manson
Francois Beauchemin - Brandon Montour
Sami Vatanen - Kevin Bieksa