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Florida Panthers at Tampa Bay Lightning preview: Contending Cats?

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One of the hottest goal-scoring teams in the league comes to town with a goalie who is twice as old as his counterpart.

RxlandS

Florida Panthers at Tampa Bay Lightning: GAME 67

Time: 7:30 PM Eastern Time

Location: Amalie Arena

Broadcast/Streaming: SUN, FS-F

Opponent SBNation Site: Litterbox Cats

Preview:

Aside from a pretty terrible loss to the Buffalo Sabres last week, the Lightning have won six of their last 7 and are 7-2-1 in their last 10. It has been five games in a row now where the Lightning have found themselves in overtime or the shootout. I doubt the Bolts want that extra playing time, especially if they predict a long playoff run in their future.

Andrei Vasilevskiy has been solid as a rock (that can do the splits and make his left arm touch his right leg from behind his back) this season but has slowed as of late. Since being pulled from the net for the first time all season 11 games ago, Vasy has a .908 save percentage. The Lightning have gone 7-3-1 in those games largely because they have scored close to four goals per game, making up for Vasy giving up an average of three per game. Whether it’s the goalie or the defense giving up high-danger shots, it’s always good to see the offense making up for the defense.

The Panthers are a very top-heavy team. The top line of Sasha, Dad, and Bjugstad has been producing the vast majority of the teams’ offense this season but have been getting help from the rest of the top six, especially some of the younger players. Jared McCann, Maxim Mamin (who has my favourite name in the league) [Say that ten times fast. - Acha], and Vincent Trochek have combined for seven goals in their last 10 games.

The Florida Panthers are coming into this game as one of the hottest teams in the league. They have won six in a row against teams like the Penguins, Capitals, Leafs, and Flyers and as a result are 8-2-0 in their last 10 games but also 13-3-0 in their last 16.

This is the fourth and final match between these two teams this season, the Lightning coming out on top the previous two times. After losing the first game of the season 5-3 to the Panthers at home, the Lightning came back on the second night of the home-and-home winning a wild game 5-4. The third game was another high-scoring affair, the Lightning scoring eight while the Panthers managing only five.

The last game between these two teams was over five months ago so it will be interesting to see whether the high-scoring game trend will continue. The last time the Panthers scored fewer than three goals in a game and won it, the calendar said 2017, 15 wins and 25 games ago.

The Lightning haven’t been much different. The last time they scored fewer than four goals in a game and won was against the Chicago Blackhawks on January 22nd, 13 wins and 20 games ago.

All signs seem to be pointing in one specific direction — also known as a bad night for Andrei Vasilevskiy — but this sport is hockey and literally anything can happen. Buckle up!

Comparison chart:

loserpoints’ note:

The Panthers have been winning games lately but not playing particularly well. Their recent shot share and expected goal share are not indicative of a team that would be on a winning streak. Both their offense and defense have been below average in this recent stretch.

The Lightning seem to have rediscovered their defensive proficiency, which is a weird thing to say coming off of a game where they gave up six goals. But in their last ten games, the skaters have excelled in suppressing dangerous shots and expected goals. That hasn’t translated into suppressing actual goals yet because the goaltending has struggled a bit lately but if they continue to play that way, good results should follow.

Tampa Bay Lightning

Forward Lines

Chris Kunitz - Steven Stamkos - Ryan Callahan

Yanni Gourde - Brayden Point - Cory Conacher

J.T. Miller - Tyler Johnson - Adam Erne

Alex Killorn - Anthony Cirelli - Cedric Paquette

Defense Pairings

Victor Hedman - Anton Stralman

Mikhail Sergachev - Dan Girardi

Braydon Coburn - Andrej Sustr (Seriously, Coop. Stop this)

Goaltenders

Louis Domingue

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Lineup notes

Lines are from the last game so probably vastly wrong.

Florida Panthers

Forward Lines

Evgenii Dadanov - Aleksander Barkov - Nick Bjugstad

Jonathan Huberdeau - Vincent Trocheck - Jamie McGinn

Connor Brickley - Jaren McCann - Maxim Mamin

Micheal Haley - Derek MacKenzie - Colton Sceviour

Defense Pairings

Keith Yandle - Aaron Ekblad

Michael Matheson - Mark Pysyk

MacKenzie Weegar - Alex Petrovic

Goaltenders

Roberto Luongo

James Reimer