Tampa Bay Lightning at Columbus Blue Jackets: GAME# 38
Time: 6:00 pm Eastern Time
Location: Nationwide Arena
Broadcast/Streaming: SunS, FSOH
Opponent SBNation Site: Jackets Cannon
The Tampa Bay Lightning is coming into Columbus at exactly the wrong time -- John Tortorella has just chastized his team for not one but two bad losses in a row, and he's sure as s...heck not going to allow his team to lose yet again. The Jackets lost to the Penguins in overtime on Wednesday, and to the Senators on Friday. Their current record is 22-14-3, good for third place in the closely contested Metro division.
How closely contested? The Atlantic is the most dramatically bad division in the league, with the Bolts coming in at a ridiculous 99% likelihood of making the playoffs, and the rest of the teams trying their best to not come in second, while the Jackets are projecting at a respectable 75% likelihood in a much tougher division. In points, the Bolts are far and away the best in the division, while the Jackets are currently projecting to come in second to Washington, with the Devils, Islanders, and Rangers fighting it out for third. Thanks to Micah, as always, for the hard work:
Why have the Jackets dropped a few games recently? They've had a lot of health issues, and as the Bolts well know, these can f...mess a team right up. In the words of Jackets Cannon writer Matt Wagner:
If you’ll allow me an analogy - a hockey team is a lot like a car engine. They’re both resilient, they can both be set up for many different types of performance, and you can pull a rather shocking amount of parts off of them and the damn thing will still do its best to run when you turn the keys.
But even the most robust, well built, and well tuned engine will hit a point where you’ve lost too many pieces for it to run, and sometimes adding parts back in just makes you that much more aware of how much is missing.
They've gotten back 2015 first-round draft pick Zach Werenski, who is currently in his second year with the big club after spending the year after his draft with the University of Michigan. He’d been out since December 20th with an injury described by the Cannon as “skating gingerly.”
The Cannon had this to say about the remainder of the lineup:
Guys like Cam Atkinson, Brandon Dubinsky, Alexander Wennberg, and Ryan Murray aren’t going to be back for some time, and none of them are easily replaced. But Torts and Jarmo need to put their heads together and do some tinkering, because it’s clear this team is going to need some help to run well without them.
While I wish the best of health to the rest of the Columbus lineup, here’s hoping the Columbus motor continues to stall out at least a little longer.
And in case none of us are sober enough to recap tomorrow night — Happy New Year!
This is a matchup of two of the better teams in the NHL this season. Columbus has struggled a bit recently but they are still a strong team in terms of shot and expected goal share. The Blue Jackets’ biggest weakness at 5v5 this season has been giving up dangerous shots, so the Lightning will need to take advantage of that tonight and finish those chances.
The Jackets biggest strength is on offense at 5v5. That will line them up directly opposite the Lightning’s strength, which is 5v5 defense. Strength vs. strength games like this have the potential to be fun and hopefully this one will deliver some exciting hockey.
Tampa Bay Lightning
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
Lineup notes: Welcome to the newest addition to the bench, Syracuse Crunch starter Domingue! It’ll be fun to see him in a Bolts jersey.
Also, is it possible we’ll see Ryan Callahan back in the lineup?
Ryan Callahan taking part in today’s #Bolts morning skate in Columbus and wearing a regular jersey for the first time since being injured.— Bryan Burns (@BBurnsNHL) December 31, 2017
Columbus Blue Jackets
Artemi Panarin - Pierre-Luc Dubois - Josh Anderson
Boone Jenner - Nick Foligno - Oliver Bjorkstrand
Sonny Milano - Lukas Sedlak - Matt Calvert
Tyler Motte - Jordan Schroeder - Markus Hannikainen
Zach Werenski - Seth Jones
Jack Johnson - David Savard
Scott Harrington - Markus Nutivaara