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Tampa Bay Lightning at Columbus Blue Jackets: Bolts usher out the old year with an old friend

Torts helps Tampa look back on victory and look forward to...more victory, hopefully.

RolandS

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

Preview

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!

Comparison Chart

loserpoints’ notes:

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

Forward Lines

Vladislav Namestnikov — Steven Stamkos — Nikita Kucherov

Ondrej Palat — Brayden Point — Tyler Johnson

Alex Killorn — Yanni GourdeCory Conacher

Chris Kunitz — Cedric Paquette — J.T. Brown

Defense Pairings

Victor Hedman — Jake Dotchin

Mikhail Sergachev — Anton Stralman

Braydon Coburn — Dan Girardi

Goaltenders

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Louis Domingue

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?

Columbus Blue Jackets

Forward Lines

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

Defense Pairings

Zach Werenski - Seth Jones

Jack Johnson - David Savard

Scott Harrington - Markus Nutivaara

Goaltenders

Sergei Bobrovsky

Joonas Korpisalo