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Tampa Bay Lightning at Colorado Avalanche: Bolts are the Storm Troopers on Star Wars night

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Let’s spoil their fun.

By RxlandS

Tampa Bay Lightning @ Colorado Avalanche: Game #32

Time: 9:00 PM Eastern Time

Location: Pepsi Center

Broadcast / Streaming: ALT, SUN

Opponent SBNation Site: Mile High Hockey

Preview

Last time Tampa Bay met Colorado, it was in Tampa, and Gabriel Landeskog scored early. Peter Budaj was in net, but after a poor start in which he also allowed a weak goal from Erik Johnson, he shut the door to end the game with a .933 SV%. That meeting at TBL was the last game of a four-game losing streak for Colorado.

After they left Tampa, they went on to win the next two games against Florida (7-3) and Pittsburgh (2-1). This week, the Avs once again beat the Cats (2-1) and probably want another win for the middle game of their homestand before once again facing Pittsburgh.

Looking a little more closely at Landeskog's goal in Tampa, here's what Matt had to say about it in the game recap:

Early on, the Avalanche swarmed the Lightning with an aggressive forecheck and bursts of speed. The Avalanche might not be a good team, but they do have an impressive set of fast forwards that can punish teams. Less than 90 seconds into the first period Gabriel Landeskog did just that.

Landeskog recovered a puck that had bounced away from Nikita Kucherov near the left faceoff circle and immediately drove towards Peter Budaj. Kucherov was never able to effectively check Landeskog as he moved towards the goal and Andrej Sustr also couldn’t get an effective stick check on him. Landeskog skated past Budaj and backhanded it over his glove to give Colorado the early lead.

In hindsight, Sustr could’ve reacted sooner to Landeskog, however, Kucherov was frantically trying to poke the puck away from Landeskog. In that situation, I can’t entirely blame the tall defender for sticking in the slot and zoning out Mikko Rantanen.

I was initially going to take apart this goal using Loserpoints’ new passing model for estimating player shot attempts, but — the passing that happens here is between Kucherov (oops!) and Landeskog, so his data wouldn’t pertain to this moment. Defensive lapses are another thing entirely, but if you want to go see how the Avs and Bolts compare in passing that leads to shot attempts, feel free to go play with the charts. (Spoiler: we’re better.)

It will be interesting to see if an Avs team in the middle of a homestand will be able to take advantage of these kinds of bad bounces and defensive lapses, or if Tampa can once again play the solid game they deployed against Arizona. The best part of the Arizona game was that the Bolts didn’t play down to competition. Let’s see if they can keep that up.

Tonight is also Star Wars night at Pepsi Center. We initially asked Tom Hunter to come up with "Which Avs player is which Star Wars character?" for our preview, but instead the idea grew into an article all by itself over at Mile High Hockey. Here's my favorite part:

Nail Yakupov —> C-3PO

Friendly, loyal, and sometimes helpful but gets in the way more often than not. Always traveling from planet to planet but, never seems to make a home anywhere. Despite his many technical malfunctions, he is a droid (player) that is easy to like.

Comparison Chart

@loserpoints’ note:

As we saw a little over a week ago, the Avalanche are struggling again this season. The’ve been particularly bad on offense and the Lightning seemed keenly aware of that. The Bolts played an aggressive style showing little fear that mistakes would lead to any sort of meaningful counter attack from the Avalanche.

Since that strategy seemed to work, I expect to see Tampa take a similar approach to this game. Look for them to pressure the Avs in an attempt to force turnovers and recover the puck even in more risky situations that they typically might. It will be up to Colorado to push back and earn some space to work. And if they don’t, the outcome will be similar to the last time these two teams played.

Tampa Bay Lightning:

As always, these change at the whim of Jon Cooper.

Forward Lines:

Vladislav Namestnikov — Steven Stamkos — Nikita Kucherov

Ondrej Palat — Brayden Point — Tyler Johnson

Alex KillornYanni GourdeCory Conacher

Chris Kunitz — Cedric Paquette — JT Brown

Defense Pairings:

Victor Hedman — Jake Dotchin

Mikhail Sergachev — Anton Stralman

Slater Koekkoek — Dan Girardi

Goaltenders:

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Peter Budaj

Lineup Notes:

With Ryan Callahan indefinitely out of the lineup, Cooper could swing for 11/7 as he has often this season, or JT Brown could draw in after being a scratch so far this road trip.

Forward Lines:

Gabriel Landeskog- Nathan MacKinnon- Mikko Rantanen

Matt Nieto - Carl Soderberg - Blake Comeau

Tyson Jost - Colin Wilson - J.T. Compher

Gabriel Bourque - Sven Andrighetto

Defense Pairings:

Patrik Nemeth - Erik Johnson

Nikita Zadorov - Tyson Barrie

Anton Lindholm - Mark Barberio

Samuel Girard

Goaltenders:

Seymon Varlamov

Jonathan Bernier