Time: 8:00 PM Eastern Time
Location: Capital One Arena
Broadcast / Streaming: NBCSN (link to stream), TVA Sports
Opponent SBNation Site: Japer’s Rink
The Lightning have a chance to get the series back to even thanks to their game three win in Washington. Now it’s time to take advantage of that chance. The Lightning are going to need to come out and play with the energy they showed through a significant chunk of game three. They still have some improvement to do in puck possession even though they played good defense.
So basically what I’m saying is... keep doing what you did in game three, but do it even better. The line changes that Jon Cooper sprung on everyone once the game started were not a surprise (and something I predicted in our preview of the game) and it worked. While I recommended more extreme line changes, what Cooper did kept some continuity by keeping good pairs together, and shook things up with a single change on each line.
Adding Ondrej Palat to the Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov line gave them a bit more defensive presence than J.T. Miller gave them. Palat is also a superior playmaker and can be the catalyst to get Stamkos and Kucherov going at even strength. The one dark spot was that they still did not possess the puck very well and we need to see them getting the puck into the offensive zone, shooting the puck, and then retrieving the puck with more consistency.
Yanni Gourde was reunited with Brayden Point and added another tireless motor for the Small Line [lmao that name - Acha]. Cooper stacked a lot of hard working, two-way, offensively capable talent onto one line, all in a small package.
The third line put a lot of weight together. While I just called the second line the Small Line, we could call the third line the Big Line. Anthony Cirelli is the smallest of the three at 6’0” and 180 pounds. Alex Killorn comes in at 6’1” and 196 pounds and Miller measures up at 6’1” and 218 pounds. The only forwards on the roster bigger and heavier than Killorn or Miller are Cedric Paquette (6’1” and 198 pounds) and the injured Adam Erne (6’1” and 214 pounds). In fact, the only players on the roster listed at a higher weight than Miller are Braydon Coburn (223 pounds), Victor Hedman (223 pounds), and Andrej Sustr (220 pounds). That’s a lot of weight and strength that all skates pretty well (Killorn’s tendency to fall down excepted).
So with their revamped forward lines, the Lightning put out the effort required to win a tough one in Washington. Now they must do it again and bring the series back to Amalie Arena for game five on Saturday. If they can do it, this effectively becomes a three-game series with the Lightning regaining home ice advantage. Lose tonight, and the Lightning will have to win three in a row. That’s not a good position to put themselves in. They can do it, but it’s a tall ask. Guys: save yourself the worry and just get the job done tonight. You can do it!
Let’s! Go! Bolts!
Tampa Bay Lightning:
Lineup notes: [Pending morning skate]
Ondrej Palat - Steven Stamkos - Nikita Kucherov
Yanni Gourde - Brayden Point - Tyler Johnson
Alex Killorn - Anthony Cirelli - J.T. Miller
Chris Kunitz - Cedric Paquette - Ryan Callahan
Victor Hedman — Dan Girardi
Ryan McDonagh — Anton Stralman
Braydon Coburn — Mikhail Sergachev
Caps AM skate lines:— Isabelle Khurshudyan (@ikhurshudyan) May 17, 2018
*But Backstrom rotated into the third line on the second time through rushes. It was Stephenson-Backstrom-Connolly