Time: 7:00 pm Eastern Time
Location: Amalie Arena
Broadcast/Streaming: NBCSCH, SUN
Opponent SBNation Site: Second City Hockey
After posting an impressive eleven-game winning streak the Tampa Bay Lightning slid into a not very impressive losing streak of three games. Tonight the Bolts have a chance to get back on track, as their new opponent are the Chicago Blackhawks, the worst team in the Central Division.
Some of their latest problems might be due to having several injured players on their roster. Ryan McDonagh and Jan Rutta have been absent since early February and the Lightning finished last two games shorthanded, and Erik Cernak and Steven Stamkos were forced to leave games due to injuries. But although Cernak’s injury wasn’t very serious and he managed to return for the next game, Stamkos will miss tonight’s matchup with Chicago. Yesterday, the Lightning recalled Mitchell Stephens from Syracuse as an emergency recall, which means that he needs to be sent down as soon as injured player recovers.
Because Stephens is an emergency recall, he will have to be sent back to the #SyrCrunch when the player he's recalled for (presumably Stamkos) is healthy. If he stays up after that, Tampa would have to use one of it's four post-trade deadline recalls. https://t.co/m769FUWGvB— Lukas Favale (@LukasFavale) February 26, 2020
According to Lightning beat writer Bryan Burns, Blake Coleman and Pat Maroon also missed morning skate. In their absence Luke Schenn practiced on a forward line with Alex Killorn and Anthony Cirelli. If both players won’t play tonight, the Bolts will likely start the game with an 11 forward/7 defenceman combination. Curtis McEhinney will be the starting goalie today.
Also, don’t forget that the Lightning added three new players before the Trade Deadline and they obviously need some time to adapt to their new teammates. Earlier today Hardev dug a little bit deeper into the recent slump, pointing out that the Lightning haven’t been playing well outside of 5v5. The Lightning PK, which was one of the best in the league at the start of the year, definitely needs Ryan McDonagh to return to the lineup, and the PP has been struggling for the past two months. During this time the Lightning converted on power play opportunities just in four games.
As for the Blackhawks, the season is pretty much over for them. They’re currently sitting at the seventh and the last position in Central Division, eight points behind the last wild-card spot. Understanding their position, the Blackhawks were big sellers at the Trade Deadline, trading Robin Lehner to the Vegas Golden Knights and Erik Gustafsson to the Calgary Flames. They also acquired Malcolm Subban from Vegas in exchange for Lehner.
The last time these two teams met, the Lightning beat the Blackhawks 4-2 despite not having Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos on the roster. The game were mostly equal and the Blackhawks even had a slight advantage by the end of the game, but because of the effort by Anthony Cirelli and Cedric Paquette lines, the Lightning earned a win.
Tampa Bay Lightning
Ondrej Palat - Brayden Point - Nikita Kucherov
Alex Killorn - Anthony Cirelli -
Tyler Johnson - Cedric Paquette - Barclay Goodrow
Carter Verhaeghe - Mitchell Stephens - Yanni Gourde
Victor Hedman - Erik Cernak
Mikhail Sergachev - Kevin Shattenkirk
Braydon Coburn - Zach Bogosian
Dominik Kubalik - Jonathan Toews - Drake Caggiula
Brandon Saad - Ryan Carpenter - Patrick Kane
Alex DeBrincat - Kirby Dach - Dylan Strome
Matthew Highmore - David Kampf - Alex Nylander
Duncan Keith - Slater Koekkoek
Olli Maatta - Adam Boquist
Nick Seeler - Connor Murphy