Time: 7:00 PM Eastern Time
Location: Amalie Arena
Broadcast/Streaming: SunS, FSOH
Opponent SBNation Site: The Cannon
First off, take a deep breath. Yes, it’s disconcerting that after two games the Lightning have exactly one 5v5 goal and that five players share the team lead in points with 1. We’re only two games into the season and those games were separated by a span of five days off. There is no need to panic just yet.
Should they have beaten Vancouver on Thursday? For sure. Despite drastically outplaying the Canucks for the vast majority of the game, they couldn’t put the puck past Anders Nilsson. Whether it was because the Swede had a great game or because the Bolts’ shots lacked a “desire to score” the Lightning have to dwell on a lost two points.
It’s too early to tell if this is just a lull or a season-long trend. Hopefully, playing more often will get them back into the rhythm that makes them one of the most lethal teams in the NHL. To do that, they need to get more shots from their top players. Through two games, Steven Stamkos has four shots and Nikita Kucherov as two. Getting those two going will go a long way to easing the concerns of Lightning fans.
The good news is that despite a lack of offense, the defensive side seems to be going along just fine. Two empty net goals skew the numbers a bit, but the Lightning have been fairly solid in their own end. Andrei Vasilevsky seems to be solid, allowing only 3 goals on 69 shots (nice) and keeping the team in the game while the offense sputters.
Even better news is that the oft-maligned penalty kill has been perfect so far this season, killing off all nine penalties. They even have a short-handed goal to boot. Sadly, that’s more than they can say about their power play which has come up dry in its first eight attempts. After going 0-for-5 on Thursday, captain Steven Stamkos referred to it as “probably the worst I’ve seen in a long time” and he’s seen Matt Carle run point on a power play so that’s saying something.
Luckily, they don’t have to sit around feeling sorry for their offensive tribulations. The Blue Jackets are in town and the schedule gets back into its normal flow. Columbus comes into town with a 3-1 record having defeated Florida 5-4 on Thursday night.
Much like the Lightning, the Blue Jackets find themselves with the possibility of a pretty heavy roster change following the season. Their leading scorer, Artemi Panarin (3 goals, 4 assists) is an unrestricted free agent this summer and spent last summer seeing his name pop up in several trade rumors. Their franchise goaltender, Sergei Bobrovsky, is also in the final year of his contract. That lends a certain sense of urgency to this season.
Newcomer Anthony Duclair, already on his fourth NHL organization, is rapidly becoming a favorite in Columbus as he has three points in four games. Cam Atkinson and Nick Foligno have also gotten off to solid starts, each with four points so far.
Shutting down the Columbus offense would be nice, but it won’t matter if the Lightning score only one goal in regulation for the third straight game. If they get the offense rolling tonight, it’ll do a lot for their confidence heading into a Tuesday clash with the surprising Carolina Hurricanes.
Comparison chart: Worst Trade Between Tampa and Columbus
In lieu of a fancy chart due to lack of sample size, we’re going to take a look at the worst trade, from a Lightning perspective, that has occurred between the two teams. Today we go back in history to the summer of 2006. Following the lockout, the Lightning finally had a chance to defend their Stanley Cup title, unfortunately it was with a shell of the championship team. Most importantly they had lost their goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin who had taken big bucks and absconded to Chicago.
His replacement, John Grahame, had a strong regular season, but faltered in the playoffs, going 1-3 with a 4.78 GAA as the Lightning were eliminated in the first round by the Ottawa Senators. He was also set to become an unrestricted free agent and the Lightning weren’t keen on bringing him back.
So on the day before free agency started, they made a deal, sending a pair of Fredrik’s (Modin and Norrena) for Marc Denis, a 29-year-old goaltender that had the league in losses in two of the previous three seasons. Despite his record the Lightning, GM Jay Feaster thought that:
”Marc Denis is a solid, steady, durable, proven No. 1 goaltender in the NHL. He is a workhorse and a fierce competitor with one of the best glove hands in the league. He is also a young man who has not yet reached the prime of his career. . Our belief in his skills and his ability to fit in well within our locker room has never wavered. We are confident Marc will bring us the type of reliable and consistent goaltending we need in order to return our franchise to the type of success we have enjoyed in the past.”
While Norrena never panned out in the NHL, Modin did put up a 22-goal/42-point season for the Blue Jackets before a series of injuries slowed down his production. The veteran hung around for another five seasons playing for Los Angeles, Atlanta and Calgary before retiring.
Denis was an unmitigated disaster for the Lightning as he went 18-23-2 over parts of two seasons and posted a less than spectacular .879 save percentage. His inability to stop the puck and lock down a job as the number one goaltender kicked off a revolving door of netminders that included Johan Holmqvist, Mike Smith, Karri Ramo, Antero Niittymaki, Dan Ellis, Dwayne Roloson, Mathieu Garon, Anders Lindback before finally ending with Ben Bishop.
He played his way into the minors before being bought out of the final year of his contract.
That was not a great deal.
Tampa Bay Lightning
Yanni Gourde - Steven Stamkos - Brayden Point
Ondrej Palat - Tyler Johnson - Nikita Kucherov
Alex Killorn - Anthony Cirelli - Mathieu Joseph
J.T. Miller - Cedric Paquette - Adam Erne
Cory Conacher - Danick Martel - Ryan Callahan (injured)
Victor Hedman - Dan Girardi
Ryan McDonagh - Anton Stralman
Braydon Coburn - Mikhail Sergachev
Columbus Blue Jackets Lines
Artemi Panarin - Pierre-Luc Dubois - Cam Atkinson
Nick Foligno -Alexander Wennberg - Anthony Duclair
Boone Jenner - Riley Nash - Josh Anderson
Oliver Bjorkstrand - Lukas Sedlak - Sonny Milano
Zach Werenski - David Savard
Ryan Murray -Markus Nutivaara
Scott Harrington - Adam Clendening