Time: 7:00 pm Eastern Time
Location: Amalie Arena
Broadcast/Streaming: Sun, NBCSCA
Opponent SBNation Site: Fear The Fin
After losing 4-2 two weeks ago, the Lightning are preparing for the second meeting this season against San Jose Sharks. According to some projections, it could be considered as a possible Stanley Cup Final preview. The Tampa Bay Lightning have 14 a point advantage over Toronto Maple Leafs in the Atlantic division, even after losing to them on a Thursday night, and the San Jose Sharks are second in the Pacific division.
The Sharks surprisingly lost to the Arizona Coyotes in their last game, but they’re still on a hot streak going 8-2-0 in the last 10 games. Their weakest spot remains goaltending. Martin Jones has .903 percentage and that’s not good enough for contending a team.
On the other hand, their defense is great. Erik Karlsson was unfairly criticized at the start of the season by some fans and journalists but has posted a 14-game point streak in December and early January, and successfully returned to the Norris Trophy conversation. While everyone was busy discussing whether Thomas Chabot or Morgan Rielly has been the more impressive defenseman this season, Brent Burns has quietly climbed to the top of the most productive defensemen in the whole league. Peter DeBoer is still trying new combinatiosn of defense pairs for his team and currently, Radim Simek who is playing on the first pair.
Marc-Edouard Vlasic hasn’t played since 2nd January but participated in the morning skate on Friday. Erik Karlsson was absent due to a maintenance day but is expected to play against the Lightning.
Tyler Johnson is listed as day to day with lower body injury and likely will miss tonight’s game. According to the lines from Friday morning practice,Alex Killorn is going to play on the second line with Brayden Point and Nikita Kucherov while JT Miller moves to the third line. Mikhail Sergachev is next on the schedule to get an off night in the D-man rotation.
It’s the last game before the bye week for the Lightning. They’ve lost 2 of their last 3 games and that could be taken as a little slump, but it should be mentioned that both of these defeats were from teams in the spots. Having a couple of day offs should be useful for team before last few months of the regular season. But they’d much rather go into that break with a win against a good Sharks team than losing three out of four games for the first time this season.
Tampa Bay Lightning
Yanni Gourde - Steven Stamkos - Ondrej Palat
Alex Killorn - Brayden Point - Nikita Kucherov
Mathieu Joseph - Anthony Cirelli - J.T. Miller
Adam Erne - Cedric Paquette - Ryan Callahan
Scratched: Danick Martel
Injured: Tyler Johnson
Victor Hedman - Dan Girard
Ryan McDonagh - Erik Cernak
Braydon Coburn - Anton Stralman
Scratched: Mikhail Sergachev
San Jose Sharks
Marcus Sorensen - Joe Thornton - Joe Pavelski
Lukas Radil - Logan Couture - Timo Meier
Evander Kane - Tomas Hertl - Joonas Donskoi
Melker Karlsson - Barclay Goodrow - Kevin Labanc
Radim Simek - Brent Burns
Brenden Dillon - Erik Karlsson
Tim Heed - Justin Braun
Injuries: Marc-Edouard Vlasic