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Tampa Bay Lightning at New York Rangers: Visiting Vladdy

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Last night was not actually a playoff game, despite what Bolts fans might think.

NHL: New York Rangers at Tampa Bay Lightning Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Tampa Bay Lightning at New York Rangers: GAME# 78

Time: 7:00 pm Eastern Time

Location: Madison Square Garden

Broadcast/Streaming: SunS, MSG

Opponent SBNation Site: Blueshirt Banter

Preview:

Here’s some perspective for us Tampa Bay Lightning fans who are depressed about our three-game losing streak to end the season. Last season in Game 78, the Tampa Bay Lightning were almost but not quite out of playoff contention. Game 78 was against the Dallas Stars, and our Dek read, “Tampa Bay is still alive in the post-season hunt, but they have to get back into the Win column, now.” Our record at that point in the season was 38-29-10, good for 86 points.

Here are some numbers from Matt’s preview of Game 78 from 2017:

Given that Tampa Bay scored once and allowed two goals, their rankings have not been affected much. They still have the 15th ranked offense with 216 goals and the 17th ranked defense with 215 goals allowed. The power play dropped slightly to 22.9% (4th) and the penalty kill moved up to 81% (13th) after last night’s games. Over the last ten games, the Lightning are 6-3-1, scoring 30 goals and allowing 31 goals (those three straight games of allowing 5 goals hurts a lot).

So how do we compare this year?

  • Offense is first in the league with 275 goals-for
  • Defense is 13th in the league with 221 goals-against
  • 24.6% PP, 76% PK
  • 5-5-0 in last ten [meh]
  • 51-22-4, 106 points
  • Third in the league
  • Playoff spot, clinched!

This past Tuesday, the New York Rangers, as expected, were eliminated from playoffs. They are 33-35-9 on the year, a record that is ironically better than the New York Islanders (32-35-10), who are not currently rebuilding. Rangers have lost the last two games while Tampa Bay have lost the last three, and will try their best to capitalize on a team trying hard to tank. On the bright side, the Bolts are pretty good on the second half of back-to-backs, and the following numbers are all promising:

  • Bolts are 5-2 in their last seven road games
  • Bolts are 7-3 in their last ten games against the Rangers
  • Rangers are 1-7 in their last eight games against Atlantic division foes.

So buck up, y’all. We have a chance to win this.

How’s Vladislav Namestnikov been doing?

This bit of writing from Blueshirt Banter is concerning:

I see the crazies are now turning on Vladislav Namestnikov now. Why not, right? No one is saying Vlad is going to be a 40-40-80 guy on the Rangers. But if Namestnikov is a 20-20-40 guy (or some variation of 40 points) added to all the little (tangible, statistically-driven) things he also does on the ice is more than enough for me. Like I said above, Miller has 13 points in 13 games, he’s going to put up a career high, meaning he’s going to be damn expensive for the Lightning. I don’t think Vlad is going to cost as much for the Rangers, and I do think that played a role in this as well.

Vladdy is currently playing on the Rangers’ fourth line with Cody McLeod and Pavel Buchnevich, and his numbers have dropped dramatically from a career-high 20G/24A in 62 games with the Bolts to 2G/1A in 14 games with the Rangers. Could it be the result of no longer playing on a line with Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov? Could it be the normal effect that a (currently) bad team has on a good player? Could it be that he’s not used to the AV’s system?

Vladdy’s a solid player who can make plays and space on the ice for more skilled teammates -- it’s a shame to bury him on the fourth line.

Tampa Bay Lightning

Forward Lines

JT Miller - Steven Stamkos - Nikita Kucherov

Yanni Gourde - Brayden Point - Tyler Johnson

Alex Killorn - Anthony Cirelli - Ondrej Palat

Chis Kunitz - Cedric Paquette - Cory Conacher

Defense Pairings

Victor Hedman - Anton Stralman

Ryan McDonagh - Dan Girardi

Braydon Coburn - Mikhail Sergachev

Andrej Sustr

Goaltenders

Louis Domingue

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Line-up notes:

From the recap: “Brian Gionta took a bad boarding penalty on Anthony Cirelli. Cirelli seemed to be hurt but was able to stay in the game.” We’ll be on Cirelli watch to see if he is in the lineup tonight. Since it’s on the second half of the back-to-back, there will be no morning skate, so these lines are from yesterday.

New York Rangers

Forwards

Chris Kreider - Mika Zibanejad - Jesper Fast

Kevin Hayes - Filip Chytil - Mats Zuccarello

Jimmy Vesey - Lias Andersson - Ryan Spooner

Cody McLeod - Vladislav Namestnikov - Pavel Buchnevich

Defense

Mark Staal - Neal Pionk

Rob O’Gara - Brady Skjei

John Gilmour - Ryan Sproul

Goaltenders

Henrik Lundqvist

Ondrej Pavalec