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Tampa Bay Lightning at Vancouver Canucks: Two teams headed in different directions

Both teams are coming off of wins on Thursday night. Which club will continue its winning ways?

Tampa Bay Lightning @ Vancouver Canucks: GAME #52

Time: 10:00 PM Eastern Time

Location: Rogers Arena

Broadcast / Streaming: SUN, CBC

Opponent SBNation Site: Nucks Misconduct

Preview:

The Lightning play the seventh of eight consecutive road games tonight in Vancouver, having compiled a respectable 4-2-0 record up to this point after Thursday night’s wacky 7-4 win over the Flames in Calgary. The Canucks are coming off of wins against Colorado (Tuesday night) and Chicago (Thursday night) and wrap up their five-game homestand when the 1st-overall team in Tampa Bay comes to town.

Thursday’s game in Calgary for the Lightning was odd for a plethora of reasons. First, the rare defenseman-to-defenseman tip led to Tampa Bay’s first goal, as an Andrej Sustr shot—that, of course, was headed wide—was deftly deflected by fellow blue liner Braydon Coburn, given him his first goal of the season. Then Alex Killorn also broke out of an 11-game goalless drought with two goals and three apples of his own. Boy, would it be nice if he could get going. Cory Conacher ended the night by adding two of the softest goals you will ever see—one on each of the Calgary netminders.

Can it get any more odd? Why, yes, in fact. Nikita Kucherov is now on a 9-game goalless drought (too bad the All-Star Game hat trick didn’t count). He seems to be passing up way too many opportunities, and the Lightning’s first power play unit looks way too scripted—a complete 180 from the ease at which that unit was scoring in the first few dozen games of the year.

Matt Peca continues to impress in his call-up. After scoring his second of the year on Thursday night, he has upped his point total to 5 in as many games. It looks like the kid does not want to go back to Syracuse. In this small sample size, Peca has been tenacious on the forecheck, unafraid to match up against bigger opponents, and a boon in the face-off dot. In my opinion, it’s only a matter of time before Yzerman tells him to get an apartment in Tampa.

As for Vancouver, their stud rookie All-Star Brock Boeser continues to impress, as he has potted 44 points in only 48 games for the Canucks. Vancouver continues to re-build but has some nice young blue-chip prospects that should begin to pay dividends in the coming seasons.

Vancouver also has a fellow named Chris Tanev on defense. He just so happens to be right-handed, under contract for three seasons beyond the current, and has a manageable $4.45M cap hit. I would not be surprised if he is Yzerman’s short list, as the managerial staff looks to shore up the Lightning’s back-end for a lengthy playoff run.

Tampa Bay Lightning:

Forward Lines:

Chris Kunitz — Steven Stamkos — Nikita Kucherov

Vladislav NamestnikovBrayden PointTyler Johnson

Alex Killorn — Matt Peca — Yanni Gourde

Cory Conacher — Ryan Callahan

Defense Pairings:

Victor Hedman — Jake Dotchin

Mikhail Sergachev — Anton Stralman

Braydon Coburn — Andrej Sustr

Slater Koekkoek

Goaltenders:

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Louis Domingue

Lineup Notes:

Based on Girardi’s availability, it wouldn’t surprise me to see Cooper go 11/7 again. Paquette being a healthy scratch is something I’ve been hoping to see for quite some time now. He has looked extremely ineffective in his role as a gritty, 4th-line center this season.

Vancouver Canucks:

Forward Lines:

Henrik SedinDaniel SedinBrock Boeser

Sven Baerstchi — Bo HorvatThomas Vanek

Markus GranlundBrandon SutterLoui Eriksson

Brendan GaunceSam GagnerJake Virtanen

Defense Pairings:

Alex Edler — Troy Stecher

Ben Hutton — Chris Tanev

Michael Del ZottoErik Gudbranson

Goaltenders:

Jacob Markstrom

Anders Nilsson