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Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Calgary Flames preview: Leap day hockey

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It’s better to be in a slump now than in April.

Calgary Flames v Tampa Bay Lightning Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Calgary Flames: GAME 65

Time: 4:00 pm Eastern Time

Location: Amalie Arena

Broadcast/Streaming: SUN

Opponent SBNation Site: Matchsticks & Gasoline

A four-game losing streak is not what you’d expect after setting a franchise record for most consecutive wins, but nevertheless it’s where the Tampa Bay Lightning are now. During that losing stretch, the gap between the Lightning and the Boston Bruins has extended to seven points, which makes the Lightning’s hopes for the first place in Division and securing home-ice advantage in a potential second-round meeting much smaller.

Steven Stamkos missed Friday morning’s practice and according to head coach Jon Cooper, they will have more clarity on his injury today or tomorrow at the latest. It’s the same injury which forced Stamkos to miss a couple of games earlier in the season and the Lightning’s concern is obvious.

Victor Hedman missed practice due to a body maintenance day, but is expected to play tonight as well as Pat Maroon who didn’t play against the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday night. Blake Coleman also missed that game as he spent time with his wife, who was expecting their first child. He joined the Lightning for the morning practice yesterday despite sleeping just four hours.

As Lightning beat writer Bryan Burns reported, the Lightning spent the first half of yesterday’s practice working on their power play. It’s not a secret that the Lightning power play has had big problems recently. Since the start of the year, the team has the lowest power play percentage in the league. The coaching staff tried some new combinations last week, putting Mikhail Sergachev as a lone defenceman on the point, but it didn’t work out yet. However, this idea definitely has a potential as the power play looked good at times despite not scoring.

Another thing that needs to be better is the goaltending and especially Andrei Vasilevskiy. Earlier, he posted an incredible 21-game point streak but since that moment, has three losses in a row averaging less than a .900 save percentage per game, which is more like the version of himself from the first half of the season. He was given a rest on Thursday night and will likely start tonight.

Speaking of the Calgary Flames, they still have a lot of work to do. They’re currently sitting in the first wild card spot in the Western Conference, but at least four teams are pushing from behind. The Flames went 6-3-1 in their last ten games, including an overtime loss on Thursday in Nashville. A big help for them is the return of Mark Giordano, who missed almost a month before.

Both teams haven’t played against each other yet in this regular season. Last year, the Lightning won both games in the seasons series. They will meet each other again in a couple of week during the Lightning’s trip to Western Canada.

Tampa Bay Lightning

Forwards

Ondrej Palat - Brayden Point - Nikita Kucherov

Blake Coleman - Anthony Cirelli - Alex Killorn

Yanni Gourde - Barclay Goodrow - Tyler Johnson

Pat Maroon - Cedric Paquette - Mitchell Stephens

Carter Verhaeghe

Defense Pairs

Victor Hedman - Erik Cernak

Mikhail Sergachev - Kevin Shattenkirk

Braydon Coburn - Zach Bogosian

Luke Schenn

Goalies

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Curtis McElhinney

Calgary Flames

Forwards

Johnny Gaudreau - Sean Monahan - Elias Lindholm

Andrew Mangiapane - Mikael Backlund - Matthew Tkachuk

Milan Lucic - Derek Ryan - Dillon Dube

Sam Bennett - Mark Jankowski - Tobias Rieder

Defense Pairs

Mark Giordano - T.J. Brodie

Noah Hanifin - Rasmus Andersson

Derek Forbort - Erik Gustafsson

Goalies

David Rittich

Cam Talbot