Tampa Bay Lightning vs. New Jersey Devils: GAME #59
Time: 7:00 Eastern Time
Location: Amalie Arena
Broadcast / Streaming: SUN, MSG+
Opponent SBNation Site: All About The Jersey
After suffering four consecutive losses, the Devils have won two straight against division foes Philadelphia and Carolina. The Devils come to Tampa tonight in the first leg of a back-to-back that sees them in Raleigh tomorrow night. However, they come to the Sunshine State limping, and they’ve had a rough stretch as of late due to some key injuries to forwards Brian Boyle, Marcus Johansson, Brian Gibbons, and netminder Corey Schneider.
Although they’ve hit a rut lately, New Jersey still sits in the first wild card position and is poised to return to the postseason for the first time since the 2011-12 season, where they lost to the Kings in six games in the Stanley Cup Final. Their blend of youthful skill injected into the lineup with key veterans, although some find themselves injured, have Devils’ fans amped for the future. With the consistent changing of playoff positions nowadays in this final stretch, these two teams could very well meet in the First Round of the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The NHL schedule maker blessed the Lightning with a visit from the Red Wings on Thursday night, after the Bolts had lost back-to-back road games to the Leafs and Sabres on Monday and Tuesday nights, respectively. A 4-1 win was capped off by a third period, in which the Lightning did not let the opponent back into the game—a theme that has reared its ugly head in games past.
After tonight, Tampa Bay heads out on a three-game road trip to Washington, Ottawa, and Montreal on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday nights, respectively. Within 41ish hours of the completion of the Lightning game in Montreal will be the Trade Deadline, which officially goes into effect at 3 p.m. on Monday the 26th. It will be very interesting to see what, if any, moves Yzerman and company make.
There is a dire need to add a defenseman, although the team played much better defensively on Thursday night against Detroit. It is rumored that Yzerman is also in the market for a winger, but in my opinion, there is a bigger need for a bottom-six center, as Tampa Bay has been losing draws at inopportune times, such as on the penalty kill in their defensive zone.
Whatever occurs, I have full faith and trust in the Jedi we call Steve Yzerman. This team has a great chance to do something special this June. Stanley needs a tan (part two).
Tampa Bay Lightning:
Yanni Gourde - Steven Stamkos - Tyler Johnson
Alex Killorn - Brayden Point - Nikita Kucherov
Adam Erne - Vladislav Namestnikov - Matthew Peca
Chris Kunitz - Cedric Paquette - Ryan Callahan
Victor Hedman — Anton Stralman
Mikhail Sergachev — Dan Girardi
Braydon Coburn — Andrej Sustr
Who knows when Koekkoek will crack the lineup next? Sigh.
New Jersey Devils:
Taylor Hall — Nico Hischier — Kyle Palmieri
Jesper Bratt — Pavel Zacha — Nick Lappin
Miles Wood — Travis Zajac — Stefan Noesen
Drew Stafford — Blake Coleman — Jimmy Hayes
Andy Greene — Sami Vatanen
John Moore — Damon Severson
Will Butcher — Ben Lovejoy