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Tampa Bay Lightning vs. New Jersey Devils: Brian Boyle returns to town

Although he’s injured, Boyle and his Devils arrive in Tampa seeking to return to the playoffs for the first time since 2011-12.

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

Preview:

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:

Forward Lines:

Yanni Gourde - Steven Stamkos - Tyler Johnson

Alex Killorn - Brayden Point - Nikita Kucherov

Adam Erne - Vladislav Namestnikov - Matthew Peca

Chris Kunitz - Cedric Paquette - Ryan Callahan

Defense Pairings:

Victor Hedman — Anton Stralman

Mikhail Sergachev — Dan Girardi

Braydon Coburn — Andrej Sustr

Goaltenders:

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Louis Domingue

Lineup Notes:

Who knows when Koekkoek will crack the lineup next? Sigh.

New Jersey Devils:

Forward Lines:

Taylor HallNico HischierKyle Palmieri

Jesper BrattPavel ZachaNick Lappin

Miles WoodTravis ZajacStefan Noesen

Drew StaffordBlake ColemanJimmy Hayes

Defense Pairings:

Andy GreeneSami Vatanen

John MooreDamon Severson

Will ButcherBen Lovejoy

Goaltenders:

Keith Kinkaid

Eddie Lack