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Columbus Blue Jackets vs. Tampa Bay Lightning: Tortorella’s return

In what should be an emotional visit back to Tampa, Torts and his Blue Jackets look to send the Bolts on a three-game winless streak.

Columbus Blue Jackets @ Tampa Bay Lightning: GAME #15

Time: 7:00 Eastern Time

Location: Amalie Arena

Broadcast / Streaming: SUN, FS-OH

Opponent SBNation Site: The Cannon

Preview:

Tonight will be an emotional roller coaster pre-puck-drop as a result of honoring the 2004 Stanley Cup-winning team, coached by the current Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella, as part of the special events making up the Lightning’s 25th Anniversary season. Not only that, but the two teams are battling it out for first in the league. In the words of Bryan Burns:

Tampa Bay continues to pace the NHL for points (22) and is T-1st with St. Louis and Los Angeles for wins (10)...Since Feb. 4, 2017, the Lightning are 30-8-6 and own the most points (66) in the NHL over that period and second-most wins (first: STL - 31)...The Bolts pace the League for goals with 54 (second: TOR - 53)...Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov will skate in his 300th career game provided he's in the lineup.

The Lightning and Blue Jackets will face off in their second of three meetings this season tonight at Amalie. Back on October 19th, the Bolts blanked the Jackets in Columbus 2-0 on the heels of Mikhail Sergachev’s first two NHL goals, and a stellar 43-save shutout by Andrei Vasilevskiy.

The Bolts are coming off two lackluster performances—both at home—against Anaheim on Monday, a 4-1 loss, and the Rangers on Thursday, a 2-1 overtime loss. The team seemed a bit slow in both outings, more so in Thursday’s matchup, and was not in sync or gelling as much as we’d seen in the first 10 or so games to start the year.

As for the Jackets (9-4-0), they are coming off of a 7-3 trouncing of the Panthers from Thursday night in front of about 6 Panthers fans in Sunrise. The Blue Jackets are currently riding a mini two-game win streak and have looked good as of late. However, Alexander Wennberg, Columbus’ 2013 first of three first-rounders who just signed a six-year deal worth $4.9 million a year, has been struggling and has been demoted to third line center duties.

The key to tonight’s game rests in Columbus’ ability to hinder the Lightning in the neutral zone. If they can take a page out of the Ducks’ and Rangers’ books from this past week and apply it tonight, the Blue Jackets will put themselves in a better place to leave town with two points.

Comparison Chart:

In lieu of a comparison chart, which would have just shown how horrible the Blue Jackets’ power play has been compared to the Lightning’s power play, I’ve decided to add a beautiful video as a prelude to what we will see tonight prior to puck drop.

Tampa Bay Lightning:

Forward Lines:

Vladislav Namestnikov — Steven Stamkos — Nikita Kucherov

Ondrej Palat — Brayden Point — Yanni Gourde

Alex Killorn — Tyler Johnson

Chris KunitzJ.T. BrownRyan Callahan

Defense Pairings:

Victor Hedman — Jake Dotchin

Mikhail Sergachev — Anton Stralman

Braydon Coburn — Dan Girardi

Slater Koekkoek

Goaltenders:

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Peter Budaj

Lineup Notes:

I’m really hopeful that the Lightning go back to the 11/7 alignment. The 12/6 lineup hasn’t been working as well as we would’ve liked in these past two games.

Columbus Blue Jackets:

Forward Lines:

Artemi PanarinNick FolignoJosh Anderson

Boone JennerBrandon DubinskyTyler Motte

Matt Calvert — Alexander Wennberg — Oliver Bjorkstrand

Sonny Milano — Pierre-Luc Dubois — Markus Hannikainen

Defense Pairings:

Zach WerenskiSeth Jones

Jack JohnsonDavid Savard

Ryan MurrayMarkus Nutivaara

Goaltenders:

Sergei Bobrovsky

Joonas Korpisalo