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2016-17 Season Breakdown: Tampa Bay Lightning vs. St. Louis Blues

Vladimir Tarasenko likes showing off in front of Team Russia teammate Nikita Kucherov.

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-St. Louis Blues at Nashville Predators Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Opponent:

St. Louis Blues

View From the Other Bench:

From the St. Louis Game Time preview, a snapshot of the season:

Tuesday night was not a good night for Ben Bishop. Unfortunately, it wasn't the first time he hasn't had a good night. He went down in the Bolts' game against the Detroit Red Wings, and now he'll be out for three to four weeks during one of the toughest parts of the schedule for any NHL team. The Bolts are 16-14-3 and sit outside of the playoff bubble for the first time in ages.

Maybe part of that is because the Lightning are short Steven Stamkos, Ondrej Palat, Nikita Kucherov, and Ryan Callahan. The Blues, on the other hand, are probably going to be missing Paul Stastny tonight.

On December 1st, the Blues nearly squandered a 4-1 lead to hold on to beat the Lightning 5-4. Vladimir Tarasenko had a hat trick. This was also a home game. Those kinds of theatrics don't play on the road for the Blues.

Did the Blues help or hurt the Lightning this season?

When the series is only two games, it’s sometimes a coin flip. This series once again highlighted the difficulty the team had with its goaltending this past season (or yeah, the defense in front of the goaltending, or the defensive responsibility of the forwards in front of...you get the picture). We lost the first game, 5-4. We won the second, 5-2.

In the first game, Tampa Bay came from behind (the other story of the season) and scored four goals. They did not win, due to two goals from the opponent plus a Vladimir Tarasenko hat trick. Ben Bishop was pulled from the first game with a .900 SV%; Andrei Vasilevskiy did poorly in relief, with an even worse .750 SV%.

The second time they met was after Bishop was injured in Detroit — and it was the first of ten games led by Vasilevskiy that led to his 4-4-2 skid in December and January. The best part of the Head-to-Head series for me has been seeing the threads of the season unfold, game by game. It was interesting to see our utter relief at Vasy’s first victory after Bishop’s injury; but we also saw the writing on the wall. Geo’s losing game recap pointed out the team’s defensive struggles, and those continued.

Games:

December 1, 2016 - Tampa Bay 4, St. Louis 5

Preview by Bethelhub — Lightning at Blues, Kucherov and Tarasenko meet as enemies

“When last Nikita Kucherov, Vladislav Namestnikov, and Vladimir Tarasenko hung out, they were on the same team. Team Russia had one of the most exciting forward groups at the World Cup this past September, and there were games that saw all three of these names on the scoresheet. Perhaps a little extra insight into Tarasenko's game can help Tampa Bay's forwards neutralize him? No? At the very least, the team has their work cut out for them.”

Recap by GeoFitz4 — False Profits - Lightning fall 5-4 in St. Louis

“The Lightning are struggling. The offensive zone is looking ok, but the defensive lapses are still killing this team. Nesterov had at least two bad plays in the offensive zone that led to odd man rushes for the Blues. One led to Palat taking a penalty and then the Blues scored on the power play. The other led to Tarasenko’s hat trick goal.”

December 22, 2016 - Tampa Bay 5, St. Louis 2

Preview by Waffleboardsave — Blues at Lightning preview: Life without Bishop

“The logical person looks at the team’s play thus far and sees both sides: the good and the bad. But the dangerous thing for the people who view this season through the logical lens is that they also don’t feel a sense of urgency. There’s a difference between urgency and insensible freakout. That’s the fine line we all walk on.”

Recap by Clark Brooks — Lightning rally to beat Blues 5-2

“Ultimately, you get judged in wins and losses, but internally when you work your way out of something, it’s how you’re working your way out. I really thought when we played St. Louis in St. Louis and we were down 4-1 and we battled back, we didn’t win that game, but you could see things were turning for us. Ever since then, I think the one game, probably the Vancouver game at home, but other than that, those guys have worked. We’ve been on the point side of most of them. Some of them we haven’t. But I just have liked the way our game has transitioned, and we’ve been getting better. It’s funny, the more guys we lose, guys keep coming in and their effort is willing us to games so it’s been nice.” - Jon Cooper

Boxscore:

Skaters:

Goals: Cedric Paquette (2), Tyler Johnson (1), Nikita Kucherov (1), Brian Boyle (1), Michael Bournival (1), Alex Killorn (1), Jonathan Drouin (2)

Assists: Jonathan Drouin (3), Joël Vermin (2), Nikita Kucherov (1), Ondrej Palat (1), Victor Hedman (4), Brian Boyle (1), Jason Garrison (1), JT Brown (1), Anton Stralman (2), Valtteri Filppula (3)

Goalies:

December 1: Ben Bishop .900 SV%, Andrei Vasilevskiy .750 SV%

December 22: Andrei Vasilevskiy .913 SV%