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Lightning vs. Penguins: Mark Streit faces his former team

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After a storied career in Tampa, Mark Streit will face his former team for the first time.

Tampa Bay Lightning v New York Islanders Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Tampa Bay Lightning at Pittsburgh Penguins: Game 63

Time: 7:30 pm Eastern Time

Location: PPG Paints Arena

Broadcast/Streaming: ROOT, SUN S

Opponent SBNation Site: Pensburgh

Preview:

In what is likely to be an emotional evening, the Pittsburgh Penguins and their newly acquired defender Mark Streit will face Streit’s former team, the Tampa Bay Lightning, for the first time since Streit was traded. A storied and accomplished fixture in Lightning lore, Streit is already sorely missed in Tampa. His career in Tampa started brightly with a succinct Elliotte Friedman tweet.

After one of the greatest 48 minutes in Lightning history, Streit found himself with a new home in Pittsburgh.

While Streit might wear yellow now, we’ll always remember him in blue. His contributions to the Lightning will never be forgotten. And whenever his illustrious career comes to an end, I personally hope he signs a one-day deal with the Bolts so he can retire as a member of the organization that loves him most.

Despite the overwhelming emotions likely to be on display, both teams still have a game to play. The Penguins currently sit tied for second in Metro with 84 points, which would put them comfortably in first place in the Atlantic. The Lightning are still well outside the playoff race hoping for a collapse from multiple teams in order to get back into contention.

The Pens remain one of the best teams in the league. They are a threat to win their second consecutive Stanley Cup. If they do, their defensive pairs are likely to look much different than they do now. Kris Letang, Olli Maata, and Trevor Daley are all regulars for the Pens and all three are currently injured.

That led the Pens to make several moves, including trading for Ron Hainsey and Lightning Legend Mark Streit as well as recalling Derrick Pouliot from the AHL. A mobile group of defenders who can all skate the puck out of the zone is one of the most important parts of their cup winning teams, so without them, they aren’t quite as dynamic a team.

Even with the injuries on defense, the forwards are still one of the best groups in the NHL and enough to win games on most nights. Sidney Crosby, Evegeni Malkin, Patric Hornqvist, and Phil Kessell among others make the Pens a threat to score at all times. Jake Guentzel has emerged lately as a playmaker on the first line giving an already dangerous offense another boost.

The Lightning will once again go with a slightly different lineup than fans have come to expect over the last few years. Andrei Vasilevskiy is the undisputed number one goalie. The trades of Valtteri Filppula and Brian Boyle open the door for new forwards to contribute. Adam Erne has looked good this year and Greg McKegg is certainly a person who plays hockey. While no one can fill the hole left in the defense by Streit, Jake Dotchin will do his best to take over on the first pairing with Victor Hedman.

A road game against Pittsburgh isn’t a game one would expect the Lightning to win this season. So instead, let’s celebrate the great career of Mark Streit and remember everything he did for this organization.

Comparison charts:

Given the historic nature of tonight’s game, let’s start be seeing just how much Mark Streit contributed to the Lightning over his career. For context, here is his three year player card via hockeyviz.com compared to Victor Hedman.

Wow. This is why I love data vizualization so much. Nothing could say more about Mark Streit’s impact on the Lightning than that image.

Here’s how the numbers stack up for tonight’s game:

Tampa Bay Lightning

Forward Lines

Ondrej Palat - Tyler Johnson - Nikita Kucherov

Ales Killorn - Brayden Point - Jonathan Drouin

Adam Erne - Cedric Paquette - Vladislave Namestnikov

Greg McKegg - Gabriel Dumont - JT Brown

Defense Pairings

Victor Hedman - Jake Dotchin

Jason Garrison - Anton Stralman

Braydon Coburn - Andrej Sustr

Goaltenders

Peter Budaj

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Opponent lines

Forward Lines

Chris Kunitz - Sidney Crosby - Jake Guentzel

Carl Hagelin - Evgeni Malkin - Patric Hornqvist

Scott Wilson - Nick Bonino - Phil Kessell

Tom Kuhnackl - Matt Cullen - Carter Rowney

Defense Pairings

Brian Dumoulin - Ron Hainsey

Ian Cole - Justin Schultz

Derrick Pouliot - Mark Streit (Tampa Bay Lightning Legend)

Goalies

Matt Murray

Marc-Andre Fleury