Time: 7:00 Eastern Time
Location: Amalie Arena
Broadcast / Streaming: SUN, FS-W
Opponent SBNation Site: Jewels from the Crown
Tonight will be a very emotional night in downtown Tampa, Florida, as the #4 sweater, worn by star center Vincent Lecavalier from 1998-2013, will be retired for eternity in the rafters at Amalie Arena.
I’ve attached two of my favorite Lecavalier goals, and I could go on for hours about just how much impact he had in his tenure with the Lightning, coupled with his philanthropic efforts in the Tampa Bay community off the ice, but to spare your tears, chills, and emotions, let’s focus our attention on tonight’s interconference match-up.
The Lightning enter tonight’s game sweeping the season series against the Canucks Thursday night at Amalie, storming out to a 4-0 lead. This included Nikita Kucherov snapping his season-long eleven-game goalless drought as well as a dominating three-goal 2nd period, before eventually taking out Vancouver by a score of 5-2.
I really liked the Killorn-Point-Kucherov combo that we witnessed on Thursday night. Killorn (finally) has looked like his playoff self, which bodes well for the Bolts heading into the stretch run here. Adam Erne also showed himself well against the Canucks with a goal of his own in his season debut. Erne has the look of a prototypical power forward, and I hope he continues to build on the confidence with which he played in Syracuse until his recent call-up.
Cedric Paquette hasn’t played since January 30 in Winnipeg and has been a healthy scratch for the past four games. In my opinion, he has looked extremely ineffective in his role as the 4th line center this year, and with the glut of prospects on the rise, especially at center (Howden, Cirelli, for example), it seems that his time in the organization has come to an end. I would absolutely love to see Yzerman flip him to a team with little to no playoff aspirations like Edmonton for someone to take over that role, such as Mark Letestu, a UFA at season’s end. Food for thought…
As for the Kings, after getting off to a torrid start to begin the year when it looked like Tampa Bay and Los Angeles would be in a dogfight for the Presidents’ Trophy, the Kings have regressed quite a bit, partly due to the injury of key forward Jeff Carter. The Kings recently suffered a six-game losing streak and have had two three-game and one four-game losing streaks, as well, this season. In fact, since the Lightning beat the Kings 5-2 on November 9, Los Angeles has put up a meager 18-17-3 record and have since fallen just barely outside of the playoff cutoff.
The Lightning need to come out strong to start this game, as L.A. is fighting tooth and nail for every point, as their playoff lives are in jeopardy. The Kings played the Panthers last night in Sunrise to start the first game of their seven-game road trip and will undoubtedly be somewhat tired, so if the Lightning can get off to a quick start, it should give the hometown crowd a little more to cheer about.
Tampa Bay Lightning:
Yanni Gourde - Steven Stamkos - Tyler Johnson
Alex Killorn - Brayden Point - Nikita Kucherov
Adam Erne - Vladislav Namestnikov - Cory Conacher
Chris Kunitz - Matthew Peca - Ryan Callahan
Victor Hedman — Anton Stralman
Mikhail Sergachev — Dan Girardi
Braydon Coburn — Andrej Sustr
The Bolts’ morning skate clearly changed up the defensive pairings. What’s here is reflective of that, with Slater Koekkoek and Jake Dotchin now making up the extra pairing. Whether these pairings will be used tonight remains to be seen.
Los Angeles Kings:
Alex Iafallo - Anze Kopitar - Tyler Toffoli
Tanner Pearson - Adrian Kempe - Dustin Brown
Kyle Clifford - Torrey Mitchell - Trevor Lewis
Andy Andreoff - Mike Amadio - Jonny Brodzinski
Derek Forbort - Drew Doughty
Jake Muzzin - Paul LaDue
Alec Martinez - Christian Folin