Time: 7:30 pm Eastern Time
Location: Amalie Arena
Opponent SBNation Site: Silver Seven
Before we get into the preview, a few words for any Ottawa fans that have wandered over here.
Hey there folks, how ya doing these days? Heard things are a little rough up there north of the border. I know it’s tough now, but you can survive it. We’ve been there. Trust me, we’ve been there. Slightly unstable owner who is hilarious to every fan base except yours? We’ve been there, a couple of times. Lots of out of town press talking about your best player playing elsewhere the moment their current contract expires? Yup, we know what’s like. Suffering through a lackluster season with head coach Guy Boucher after getting within a goal of the Stanley Cup Finals the previous season? You guessed it, Lightning fans have been down that road. Granted, y’all are stuffing it all into one season so that’s pretty impressive, it took us years to do all that.
But now onto the actual match-up.
Well, the Senators aren’t in last place, yet. Currently they are six points ahead of Buffalo and ten points ahead of Arizona for the last-place in the entire league. They are 3-6-1 in their last 10 games. They are, however, undefeated in outdoor games this year having dispatched the Montreal Canadiens 3-0 in the Scotiabank NHL100 Classic last Saturday.
They are struggling to score (23rd in the league) and struggling to keep the puck out of the net (27th in the league). It’s hard to be successful with marks like that. If there is a silver lining, it’s that they’re a decent winning streak away from getting back in the wild-card chase. Granted, their longest winning streak of the season is three games and that came all the way back in October.
If they’re going to win, they’re going to have to find a way to score some goals. Their best hopes are Mark Stone and Erik Karlsson. Stone is on pace for a career year, having netted 14 goals, although he has yet to hit the back of the net in December. Karlsson is playing his usual high-end brand of hockey, 22 points in 27 games and the happiest celebration of the year.
Unfortunately, the return of Gabriel Dumont has been put on ice as the former Lightning center is currently on IR with an ankle injury. He has struggled to be effective since being claimed on waivers, recording just one point in 11 games with the Senators.
As for the Lightning, it will be interesting to see how they rebound from the last-second loss to Vegas. It wasn’t a very good game for them, nor was the Colorado game despite the win. So far this season they have responded well to losses, having lost back-to-back game only once this season.
The Lightning need to fix their broken penalty kill which has given up seven power play goals in their last three games. Not only did Vegas score four times with the man-advantage, it only took them about four minutes to do so. Some of the failure can be traced to not having Tyler Johnson or Ryan Callahan in the line-up, but the other players that are on the ice have to step up.
Much like the games against Colorado and Arizona, the Lightning have to not play down to their competition. There best path to victory is to score early and keep the pressure on. If Johnson is out again, Coach Cooper might be tempted to split up Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov again to keep the lines balanced. Perhaps Yanni Gourde could find some time on the Stamkos line.
With four winnable games at home (Minnesota, Montreal and Philadelphia follow the Senators into Tampa) the Lightning have a chance to put some distance between them and their pursuers in the standings. If they can keep up their level of play, it will set them up nicely for the rest of the season.
Comparison chart: Random Video I stumbled across
The Ottawa Senators Inaugural Opening Ceremonies. To quote Stefon, it has everything. Fake horn-playing gladiator, ominous music that builds up but never really hits a crescendo, fake columns, figure-skating gladiators and a cheesy “Let’s go Senators” chant.
Tampa Bay Lightning
(updated at 3.12pm based on morning skate)
Vladislav Namestnikov — Steven Stamkos — Nikita Kucherov
Ondrej Palat — Brayden Point — Tyler Johnson
Alex Killorn — Yanni Gourde — Cory Conacher
Chris Kunitz — Cedric Paquette — J.T. Brown
Victor Hedman — Jake Dotchin
Mikhail Sergachev — Anton Stralman
Braydon Coburn — Dan Girardi
Slater Koekkoek - Andrej Sustr
Bobby Ryan - Matt Duchene - Mark Stone
Zack Smith - Jean-Gabriel Pageau - Tom Pyatt
Mike Hoffman - Derick Brassard - Ryan Dzingel
Nick Paul- Nate Thompson - Alexandre Burrows
Johnny Oduya - Erik Karlsson
Dion Phaneuf - Cody Ceci
Fredrik Claesson - Thomas Chabot
Per a Tweet from TSN1200 - Dion Phaneuf may or may not be with the team tonight. Ottawa has recalled defenseman Andreas Englund in case their captain can’t play.