Time: 8:00 pm Eastern Time
Location: Amalie Arena
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.
Looks like the Lightning have made some changes to their power-play units, at least for the start of today's practice.— Bryan Burns (@BBurnsNHL) October 22, 2019
PP1: Hedman, Stamkos, Kucherov, Johnson and Palat
PP2: Shattenkirk, Sergachev, Point, Killorn and Maroon#Bolts
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
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
Victor Hedman - Erik Cernak
Ryan McDonagh - Kevin Shattenkirk
Braydon Coburn - Mikhail Sergachev
Scratched: Jan Rutta
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
John Marino - Kris Letang
Marcus Pettersson - Justin Schultz
Juuso Riikola - Erik Gudbranson