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Florida Panthers at Tampa Bay Lightning Preview: Game One is Go!

Steady on the rudder, let’s go for another year.

Florida Panthers v Tampa Bay Lightning
TAMPA, FL - NOVEMBER 21: Steven Stamkos #91, Ryan McDonagh #27 and Yanni Gourde #37 of the Tampa Bay Lightning celebrate after scoring against the Florida Panthers in the third period at Amalie Arena on November 21, 2018 in Tampa, Florida.
Photo by Scott Audette/NHLI via Getty Images

Florida Panthers at Tampa Bay Lightning: GAME #1

Time: 7:00 pm Eastern Time

Location: AMALIE Arena - Tampa, Florida

Broadcast/Streaming: Fox Sports Sun

Opponent SBNation Site: Litter Box Cats

Another October, another season. It was a long summer, and seemingly an even longer preseason, but we’re here and the most exciting team in hockey is ready for a new campaign.

Last playoffs were a random set of four games. Anything could’ve happened in them. The roll of the dice just came out on the extreme negative side of the Bolts. That doesn’t justify any of the gross media narratives that keep sewing fear and fault in this Lightning team. Nothing should have changed, and nothing has changed.

Of course, there will be system adjustments as the league evolves and the coaches stay on the cutting edge, but the aspects that make the Lightning special are still there and are still at the forefront.

It’s good to see “gritty” players like Luke Witkowsky and Patrick Maroon on the team, they’re here to provide a solid presence from the back end like Ryan Callahan did until the tail end of last year. That does not mean the Lightning will turn into a gooning team. Far from it, the more the team stays at 5v5 and 5v4, the more likely they are going to win games. Bullies don’t prosper.

Brayden Point was expected to miss a month starting in October, but that timeline has continually come down in the past weeks. So far, he’s been practicing since Monday and should be back within the next 3-4 weeks. The thread below by Dr. Harjas Grewal provides an amazing perspective from an actual doctor and not someone like me, who just plays one on TV. I’m kidding, I’m not on TV, I just have a series on Hulu.

Just to close out the NHL injuries, Cedric Paquette is also dealing with an injury suffered in the last game of the preseason. So far, we know it’s an arm injury and he’ll be set to return after the first few games. Perhaps a midweek return against the Toronto Maple Leafs?

For the Panthers, they’ve revamped their lineup for this year, adding former Columbus goalie Sergei Bobrovsky, Washington’s Brett Connolly, Boston’s Noel Acciari and Frank Vatrano, and our very own Anton Stralman. The team hopes a new investment in depth will help them push from the lower third of the half of the league to the top half, and hopefully the playoffs. They still don’t have a backup goaltender (Sam is not very good), but the team... is a team for sure. For some deeper reading, check out Matthew’s Atlantic “Contender” article. Florida is on the list.


Tampa Bay Lightning

Forward Lines

Steven Stamkos - Tyler Johnson - Nikita Kucherov

Ondrej Palat - Anthony Cirelli - Alex Killorn

Carter Verhaeghe - Yanni Gourde - Mathieu Joseph

Patrick Maroon - Gemel Smith - Luke Witkowski

Defense Pairings

Victor Hedman - Kevin Shattenkirk

Ryan McDonagh - Erik Cernak

Braydon Coburn - Mikhail Sergachev

Goaltenders

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Curtis McElhinney

Power Play

Hedman
Kucherov - Johnson - Stamkos
Maroon

Shattenkirk
Sergachev - Killorn - Verhaeghe
Palat


Florida Panthers

Forward Lines

Jonathan Huberdeau - Aleksander Barkov - Evgenii Dadonov

Mike Hoffman - Vincent Trocheck - Brett Connolly

Denis Malgin - Henrik Borgstrom - Frank Vatrano

Dryden Hunt - Noel Acciari - Colton Sceviour

Defense Pairings

Mike Matheson - Aaron Ekblad

Keith Yandle - Josh Brown

MacKenzie Weegar - Anton Stralman

Goalies

Sergei Bobrovsky

Samuel Montembeault

Power Play

Ekblad
Hoffman - Dadonov - Huberdeau
Barkov

Yandle
Vatrano - Borgstrom - Trocheck
Connolly