Time: 7:00 pm Eastern Time
Location: Amalie Arena
Broadcast/Streaming: NBCSCH, SUN
Opponent SBNation Site: Second City Hockey
After a confident win over the Chicago Blackhawks on the opening night of the season, the defending Stanley Cup Champion Tampa Bay Lightning are preparing for their second game against the same opponent. The Blackhawks will try to avoid a bad start as in the first game, when the team had been trailing 0-3 by the end of the first period.
As it was announced earlier Tyler Johnson will make his return to the lineup tonight after going through waivers and spending the first game as a part of taxi squad. At yesterday’s practice he joined his familiar linemates Anthony Cirelli and Alex Killorn on the second line. With Johnson’s return Mathieu Joseph will be moved down to the fourth line. In his first NHL game since Feb. 13, 2020, Joseph looked very solid, scoring a goal in just ten minutes of ice time.
This also means that Alex Volkov will be the odd man out tonight. The 23-year old Russian forward is still struggling at the NHL level. In the game his line was the only one, which was outshot by the Blackhawks, but even compared with his teammates Pat Maroon and Mitchell Stephens, who played on the same line, Volkov’s numbers looked pretty low. Playing at the bottom line doesn’t help either for such a skilled player as Volkov. Obviously it’s just the first game of the season, but he is already losing the fight for the last vacant Lightning’s spot.
However, as the Lightning’s head coach Jon Cooper mentioned after yesterday’s practice, he’s not going to bury players on the bench, although it doesn’t mean that there will be a big rotation of players. Luke Schenn, who is also available now, will likely to return to the lineup at some point as well, giving a rookie Cal Foote some rest. Per Cooper they want to get a newly signed defenceman Andreas Borgman to the lineup too. Given the ongoing pandemic and strict NHL’s health and safety protocols, the replacements will definitely be useful.
Asked Jon Cooper on how he’ll handle playing time with Cal Foote. Cooper said there won’t be a strict rotation, that guys will earn their games but that everyone will play. They want to get Schenn in lineup, same with Borgman. Nobody will get buried on bench #TBLightning— Joe Smith (@JoeSmithTB) January 14, 2021
Meanwhile, the Blackhawks have officially placed Jonathan Toews and Kirby Dach on long-term injured reserve, while Brent Seabrook remains on injured reserve with a lower back injury. Those players won’t help them during the opening stretch of the season.
After tonight’s game against the Blackhawks, the Bolts are going to the indefinite pause: Sunday’s game against the Dallas Stars has been already postponed due to several COVID-19 positive tests amongst their players, but it’s still not clear whether the second game against the Stars on January 19 will be postponed too. If that game will be postponed, the Lightning won’t play until January 21, when the team heads to Columbus to meet the local Blue Jackets.
Tampa Bay Lightning
Ondrej Palat - Brayden Point - Steven Stamkos
Alex Killorn - Anthony Cirelli - Tyler Johnson
Barclay Goodrow - Yanni Gourde - Blake Coleman
Pat Maroon - Mitchell Stephens - Mathieu Joseph
Victor Hedman - Jan Rutta
Mikhail Sergachev - Erik Cernak
Ryan McDonagh - Cal Foote
Alex DeBrincat - Dylan Strome - Patrick Kane
Dominik Kubalik - Pius Suter - Brandon Pirri
Mattias Janmark - Lucas Wallmark - Andrew Shaw
Matthew Highmore - David Kampf - Ryan Carpenter
Duncan Keith - Connor Murphy
Nikita Zadorov - Adam Boquist
Calvin de Haan - Ian Mitchell