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Tampa Bay Lightning vs Anaheim Ducks preview: The Bolts face the struggling Ducks

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Both teams have been dealing with injuries lately

Anaheim Ducks v Tampa Bay Lightning

Tampa Bay Lightning vs Anaheim Ducks Game 20

Time: 7:00 pm Eastern Time

Location: Amalie Arena

Broadcast/Streaming: Fox Sports Sun

Opponent SBNation Site: Anaheim Calling

Preview:

The Tampa Bay Lightning are coming back to Amalie Arena from a short road trip on which they got half of the possible points following a victory over the Chicago Blackhawks and a loss to St. Louis Blues. They will spend the next three games at home, including tonight’s matchup against the Anaheim Ducks.

The Lightning lost two key players during the trip: Nikita Kucherov played just 11 minutes against the Blues and Steven Stamkos stayed on the bench during the last two periods of the game against Chicago. Kucherov was expected to return on Thursday, but still wasn’t ready to dress for the game. At morning skate, Kucherov was on the ice but Stamkos was not. That doesn’t necessarily tell us anything about their statuses but as of this article’s writing, Kucherov looks more likely than Stamkos to play. Either way, expect both to be game time decisions.

The Lightning started their last game with an 11-forward/ 7-defensemen lineup which eventually turned into 10/6 lineup after Stamkos’ injury. If the captain isn’t ready for Saturday’s game, Carter Verhaeghe could take his place on the roster and Cory Conacher will likely play another game for the Bolts.

After sitting during the game against the Blackhawks, Andrei Vasilevskiy will return to the net. Vasilevskiy is one the Bolts who still needs to find his game if they want this season to be successful. He has a negative goals saved above expected rate while having a low amount of expected goals the opposing team generates, which essentially means that Vasilevskiy is not good enough despite not facing a lot of dangerous shots. The following chart from Sean Tierney accurately illustrates it.

The Ducks started their trip to Florida with an overtime loss against the Florida Panthers. That was already the seventh loss in the last eight games. The start of the season was much better for the Ducks, they were amongst the leading group in the Pacific Division until November but then started slowly falling down. It’s also displayed by their numbers: both special teams are among the worst in the league and their numbers at 5v5 are not great either.

The Ducks have also faced a lot of injuries. It was announced before the season that Ryan Kesler and Patrick Eaves are out for the whole year. It’s also not determined whether Hampus Lindholm could play against the Bolts. The Swedish blueliner has already missed eight games. Josh Manson, another defenceman, has also been missing since early November.

Tampa Bay Lightning

Forward Lines

Ondrej Palat - Brayden Point - Yanni Gourde

Carter Verhaeghe - Tyler Johnson - Cory Conacher

Alex Killorn - Anthony Cirelli - Mathieu Joseph

Patrick Maroon - Cedric Paquette

Injured: Nikita Kucherov, Steven Stamkos

Defense Pairings

Victor Hedman - Kevin Shattenkirk

Ryan McDonagh - Erik Cernak

Mikhail Sergachev - Jan Rutta

Braydon Coburn

Scratched: Luke Schenn

Goaltenders

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Curtis McElhinney

Anaheim Ducks

Forward Lines

Rickard Rackell - Ryan Getzlaf - Troy Terry

Max Jones - Adam Henrique - Jakob Silfverberg

Nick Ritchie - Sam Steel - Ondrej Kase

Nicolas Deslauriers - Derek Grant - Carter Rowney

Defense Pairings

Brendan Guhle - Cam Fowler

Josh Mahura - Erik Gudbranson

Jacob Larsson - Michael Del Zotto

Goalies

Jonh Gibson

Ryan Miller

Injuried: Josh Manson, Hampus Lindholm