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Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Pittsburgh Penguins preview: Can the Lightning fix their special teams?

Cedric Paquette is returning to the lineup

NHL: JAN 30 Lightning at Penguins Photo by Jeanine Leech/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Pittsburgh Penguins: Game 9

Time: 8:00 pm Eastern Time

Location: Amalie Arena

Broadcast/Streaming: NBCSN

Opponent SBNation Site: Pensburgh


It’s been an up-and-down start of the season so far for the Tampa Bay Lightning. After a bad game could follow a good one or the other way around. Sometimes it even changes during the same game. After last regular season when the Lightning posted 62 wins, this has been very frustrating for some fans, but once again it’s still October.

Jon Cooper has regrouped the lines again at Tuesday’s practice. With Cedric Paquette returning to the lineup, Carter Verhaeghe is probably moving to the press box. Paquette is likely going to replace him on the fourth line with Luke Witkowski and Pat Maroon. The coaching staff have also split up the top line. Brayden Point is centering Ondrej Palat and Yanni Gourde for now and Mathieu Joseph has been promoted to the first line and will likely get some minutes with Steven Stamkos.

Some changes have been made to the Bolts power play units as well. The Lightning have posted a solid power play percentage so far, although they scored just one power play goal in the last four games while having a man advantage ten times. On the other hand, the penalty kill percentage is also a concern. The Lightning didn’t allow any shorthanded goals in the last game against the Colorado Avalanche. However, their overall numbers don’t seem as effective as it was last season and remain one of the worst in the whole league.

It’s still not clear if these change will reflect on tonight’s lineup, but Jon Cooper is definitely trying something new. The last regular season raised the bar pretty high for the team and changes are expected after losses.

Speaking of the Penguins, despite having a short two-game losing streak, they are doing surprisingly well at the start of the season. Many early projections didn’t see them as a playoff team, but even after losing due to injuries such key players as Evgeni Malkin, Alex Galchenyuk, Nick Bjugstad or Brian Dumoulin, the team posted six victories in ten games and shares second place in the Metropolitan Division with the Carolina Hurricanes.

Last year, the Lightning have won the regular season series against the Penguins 2-1, but both wins were earned in very close games. Presumably, we can expect the same scenario tonight. Without Malkin and Galchenyuk, the Pens power play units are not as dangerous, so if Cooper’s latest PP unit changes work out, it could be a key factor for the Bolts to win this game.

Tampa Bay Lightning

Forward Lines

Steven Stamkos - Tyler Johnson - Mathieu Joseph

Alex Killorn - Anthony Cirelli - Nikita Kucherov

Ondrej Palat - Brayden Point - Yanni Gourde

Patrick Maroon - Cedric Paquette - Luke Witkowski

Scratched: Carter Verhaeghe

Defense Pairings

Victor Hedman - Erik Cernak

Ryan McDonagh - Kevin Shattenkirk

Braydon Coburn - Mikhail Sergachev

Scratched: Jan Rutta


Andrei Vasilevskiy

Curtis McElhinney

Pittsburgh Penguins

Forward Lines

Jake Guentzel - Sidney Crosby - Dominik Simon

Dominik Kahun - Jared McCann - Patric Hornqvist

Zach Aston-Reese - Teddy Blueger - Brandon Tanev

Adam Johnson - Joseph Blandisi - Sam Lafferty

Defense Pairings

John Marino - Kris Letang

Marcus Pettersson - Justin Schultz

Juuso Riikola - Erik Gudbranson


Matt Murray

Tristan Jarry