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Tampa Bay Lightning vs. New Jersey Devils preview: Bolts have to deal with sudden injury problems

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Alex Volkov could make his NHL debut tonight!

Tampa Bay Lightning v New Jersey Devils Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Tampa Bay Lightning at New Jersey Devils Game 12

Time: 7:00 pm Eastern Time

Location: Prudential Center

Broadcast/Streaming: MSG+

Opponent SBNation Site: All About The Jersey

Preview:

The last game was a night to forgot for the Tampa Bay Lightning. A game that could have been considered an easy one turned into a nightmare. The Lightning had to deal with injuries, which occurred before the start of the game when it was announced that Anthony Cirelli and Brayden Point were game time decisions. Point eventually played, Cirelli didn’t and has been listed as a day-to-day. The things got complicated when the team lost Pat Maroon and Victor Hedman during the game; same as Cirelli, both have been given a day-to-day status.

Considering that the next game is tonight, it’s not likely that these players will be ready for the game. It hasn’t been announced officially yet, but hockey agent Dan Milstein posted on his twitter account that forward Alex Volkov has been recalled from the Syracuse Crunch. Volkov was very close to make the team at the start of the season, but got an injury during one of the last preseason games. He played three games for the Crunch and posted three assists. He can make his NHL debut tonight.

It will be interesting to see what line combinations the Lightning coaching staff will choose for tonight’s game with both Carter Verhaeghe and Volkov on the Bolts roster. Last night Verhaeghe played just about eight minutes on the third line, mostly with Yanni Gourde and Mathieu Joseph. With Pat Maroon out, he can be moved to the fourth line and Volkov can play on the third line. Jan Rutta will fill in at Hedman’s place on the blueline.

Andrei Vasilevslkiy played the first leg of back-to-back games and Curtis McElhinney is expected to start tonight against the New Jersey Devils.

Speaking of the Devils, they are currently the worst team in the whole league with 6 points, although it’s true that they played fewer games than their closest opponents. Before the start of the season some experts predicted that team could compete for a playoff spot, but after seven losses in first ten games it’s very unlikely that the trend will change. Their situation is very similar to the New York Rangers: latest summer’s acquisitions haven’t worked out yet and their young players still don’t ready for the NHL level.

Jack Hughes needs time to adapt to the professional level, however he has started to look better recently. Former Tampa Bay prospect Nikita Gusev finally made a NHL debut, but his numbers through first ten games were terrible. He’s one of the worst player in the league with a Corsi For of 34.55% and expected goals of 28.26%. As it was reported yesterday, he will be a healthy scratch for tonight’s game and will watch it from the players box with Patrik Elias.

Fair to say that the whole team looks overall bad, with even Taylor Hall having a negative Corsi For %. The Devils special units are also ranked very low.

During the last season, the Tampa Bay Lightning swept the season series against the Devils 3-0, outscoring the opponent 18-6.

Tampa Bay Lightning

Forward Lines

Ondrej Palat - Brayden Point - Nikita Kucherov

Steven Stamkos - Tyler Johnson - Alex Killorn

Mathieu Joseph - Yanni Gourde - Alex Volkov

Carter Verhaeghe - Cedric Paquette - Luke Witkowski

Injured: Anthony Cirelli, Patrick Maroon

Defense Pairings

Ryan McDonagh - Erik Cernak

Braydon Coburn - Kevin Shattenkirk

Mikhail Sergachev - Jan Rutta

Injured: Victor Hedman

Goaltenders

Curtis McElhinney

Andrei Vasilevskiy

New Jersey Devils

Forward Lines

Taylor Hall - Jack Hughes - Kyle Palmieri

Pavel Zacha - Nico Hischier - Jesper Bratt

Blake Coleman - Travis Zajac - Wayne Simmonds

Miles Wood - Kevin Rooney - John Hayden

Scratched: Nikita Gusev, Jesper Boquist

Defense Pairings

Damon Severson - P.K. Subban

Andy Greene - Sami Vatanen

Will Butcher - Mirco Mueller

Goalies

Cory Schneider

Mackenzie Blackwood