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Tampa Bay Lightning at Arizona Coyotes preview: Beware of the Cirelli-Coleman line

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One more game before coming home.

NHL: JAN 09 Coyotes at Lightning Photo by Mark LoMoglio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Tampa Bay Lightning at Arizona Coyotes: GAME 62

Time: 8:00 pm Eastern Time

Location: Gila River Arena

Broadcast/Streaming: SN, FS-A PLUS, SUN

Opponent SBNation Site: Five For Howling

Preview:

The Tampa Bay Lightning’s franchise record winning streak ended with a loss in Vegas on Thursday night. Tonight the Bolts are coming to Arizona to face another team from the Pacific Division who are still pushing for playoffs.

Cedric Paquette had a maintenance day yesterday and per assistant coach Derek Lalonde is doubtful to play tonight. Luckily for the Bolts, Brayden Point seems to be ready to play and already appeared at yesterday’s practice. With Paquette potentially out, the coaching staff decided to slightly mixed up lines. Mitchell Stephens returned to the fourth line with Carter Verhaeghe and Pat Maroon, and Blake Coleman moved up to play with Anthony Cirelli and Alex Killorn. Moving Blake Coleman to Cirelli’s line is an interesting choice. Both players have strong possession and defensive numbers, and playing together with Alex Killorn, those three players can create a very strong shut-down line which can also provide the team with offense.

While the Lightning are basically locks for the playoffs, the Arizona Coyotes have recently fallen off the playoff spot. The situation in the Pacific division is still pretty tight, with the Yotes sitting at the fifth place in the division, just four points behind the Vegas Golden Knights, who are leading the division. However, the Yotes have played two more games than most of their opponents and went 4-5-2 in the last ten games. According to Micah Blake McCurdy’s prediction model, the Coyotes playoff chances have dropped lately from around 55-60 percent to 35 percent as of yesterday.

During the first meeting between this teams, the Lightning have shut down the Yotes, winning 4-0. The Bolts dominated the opponent at both ends, limiting chances around their own net and helped Andrei Vasilevskiy record his first shutout of the season. Even after acquiring Taylor Hall, the Coyotes are still struggling at creating offense. They are ranked just 24th at expected goal share and have one of the worst shooting percentages in the league. If the Lightning continue to play as they played since the start of the year, it will cause a lot of problems for the Yotes.

After tonight’s game the Lightning are coming home to Tampa for a week and a half. So far during their trip to Colorado, Nevada, and Arizona, they earned two of four possible points, and earning another point tonight would be considered a good result on a road trip. Meanwhile, the Boston Bruins have extended their gap against the Lightning to five points, but the Bolts have one game in hand.

Tampa Bay Lightning

Forwards

Steven Stamkos - Brayden Point - Nikita Kucherov

Blake Coleman - Anthony Cirelli - Alex Killorn

Ondrej Palat - Tyler Johnson - Yanni Gourde

Patrick Maroon - Mitchell Stephens - Carter Verhaeghe

Injured: Cedric Paquette

Defense Pairs

Victor Hedman - Erik Cernak

Mikhail Sergachev - Kevin Shattenkirk

Braydon Coburn - Luke Schenn

Scratched: Cameron Gaunce

Injured: Ryan McDonagh, Jan Rutta

Goalies

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Curtis McElhinney

Arizona Coyotes

Forwards

Taylor Hall - Christian Dvorak - Conor Garland

Clayton Keller - Nick Schmaltz - Phil Kessel

Lawson Crouse - Derek Stepan - Barrett Hayton

Carl Soderberg - Brad Richardson - Christian Fischer

Defense Pairs

Oliver Ekman-Larsson - Niklas Hjalmarsson

Jordan Oesterle - Alex Goligoski

Aaron Ness - Ilya Lyubushkin

Goalies

Adin Hill

Antti Raanta

Injured: Jakob Chychrun, Darcy Kuemper, Jason Demers