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Tampa Bay Lightning at Anaheim Ducks preview: Will the Bolts power play show up?

Another late night game in California.

Anaheim Ducks v Tampa Bay Lightning Photo by Scott Audette/NHLI via Getty Images

Tampa Bay Lightning at Anaheim Ducks Game 51

Time: 10:00 pm Eastern Time

Location: Honda Center

Broadcast/Streaming: SN, Fox Sun

Opponent SBNation Site: Anaheim Calling

Preview:

The Tampa Bay Lightning continue their trip to California with next stop in Anaheim against the local Ducks. It’s the first game of a back-to-back set as tomorrow the Bolts are facing the San Jose Sharks.

The road trips to California haven’t always been easy. Even this year, when all three teams have basically lost their hopes to make playoffs, they still have a point percentage greater than 50% at their home rink.

Currently, the Anaheim Ducks are sitting in seventh place in the Pacific Division. They’ve won three of the last four game, including a game against a very tough opponent in the Nashville Predators and their divisional rival the Arizona Coyotes. But other than that, the Ducks are deeply in the rebuilding process.

They’ve lost two experienced players in Patrick Eaves and Ryan Kesler before the start of the season. Ryan Getzlaf is leading the team in points at the age of 34, which is probably not a very positive sign and players like Jakob Silfverberg and Rickard Rakell are clearly talented, but not providing the performance that would be needed from true top players. On defence, Cam Fowler is having a resurgent season, but as the following heat map shows, the Ducks have been a below average team in terms of defence.

https://hockeyviz.com/fixedImg/shotLocDef/1920/ANA/wrap

Even John Gibson, who was one of the best players for the Ducks in previous years, is having an off-year and posted negative numbers in both GSAx and GSAA at even strength this season.

On the other hand, the Lightning are comfortably amongs the top teams in the league. Their top line is continuing to excel, Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov are leading the league in points over the last month, they’ve both scored 17 points in 12 games. Brayden Point is not far behind them with 12 points in 12 games. Andrei Vasilevskiy’s point streak is also continuing. He hasn’t lost in regulation during the last 14 games, winning 12 of them. Although I’d assume that Curtis McElhinney will get a start today against the Ducks, given that the San Jose Sharks are clearly the better offensive team.

The only concern for the Lightning is their power play. Over the last month, their conversion percentage on the PP is tied with Detroit Red Wings for the 28th in the league. This is probably due to some bad luck, because the Bolts are shooting with very abnormally low percentages and it should bounce back soon, given their previous record. However, despite their latest struggles, they’re still the second overall this season.

The Lightning defeated the Ducks in the first game of the season, mostly because of a dominant performance by their power play units, so tonight’s game could be a good chance to get some confidence back.

Tampa Bay Lightning

Forward Lines

Steven Stamkos - Brayden Point - Nikita Kucherov

Ondrej Palat - Anthony Cirelli - Tyler Johnson

Alex Killorn - Cedric Paquette - Pat Maroon

Carter Verhaeghe - Mitchell Stephens - Yanni Gourde

Defense Pairings

Victor Hedman - Jan Rutta

Ryan McDonagh - Erik Cernak

Mikhail Sergachev - Kevin Shattenkirk

Luke Schenn (scratched), Braydon Coburn (scratched)

Goaltenders

Curtis McElhinney

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Anaheim Ducks

Forward Lines

Rickard Rakell - Ryan Getzlaf - Troy Terry

Nick Ritchie - Adam Henrique - Jakob Silfverberg

Max Jones - Sam Steel - Ondrej Kase

Nicolas Deslauriers - Derek Grant - Carter Rowney

Defense Pairings

Hampus Lindholm - Erik Gudbranson

Cam Fowler - Josh Manson

Jacob Larsson - Korbinian Holzer

Goalies

John Gibson

Ryan Miller