Time: 7:30 pm Eastern Time
Location: Amalie Arena
Broadcast/Streaming: ESPN, TVAS, SN
Opponent SBNation Site: Pensburgh
The Tampa Bay Lightning are starting their quest for a three-peat with a game against the Pittsburgh Penguins — the last team to achieve two consecutive Stanley Cup wins before the Lightning. This is also the opening game of the 2021-22 NHL regular season and will be one of 13 Lightning games to be broadcasted nationally on ESPN/TNT networks.
Despite the ongoing cap issues, the Lightning managed to keep their top six forwards as well as their defensive core. But the departure of the entire third line, players who had a significant role for two Stanley Cup runs, might uncover many more issues than some people think. Newcomers Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and Corey Perry are expected to fill those holes and also bring some of their experience to the Lightning’s bottom six, which will be filled with several young players this season.
Yesterday the Lightning finalized their roster for the opening night. Rookies Taylor Raddysh and Boris Katchouk have made the team, outplaying Alex Barre-Boulet, who was placed on waivers and eventually claimed by the Seattle Kraken yesterday. Gemel Smith and Cal Foote are expected to start the season on the injured reserve list. Smith is out indefinitely with a lower-body injury and Cal Foote will potentially miss 2-4 weeks after having surgery on his finger.
Ladies and gentlemen, your Tampa Bay Lightning! ⚡️ pic.twitter.com/GZ6FqowhCL— Tampa Bay Lightning (@TBLightning) October 11, 2021
After being called to taxi squad last season, it seems like Taylor Raddysh has finally made the team and will play in his first NHL game tonight. Raddysh, who started training camp a little bit slow, leapfrogged both Katchouk and Barre-Boulet at the end of the camp. He played on the fourth line with Bellemare and Maroon in the last pre-season game, and was on the ice at the end of the game, when the Lightning were defending their two-goal lead, which shows that the coaching staff is pretty confident in him.
While the Lightning’s top line of Ondrej Palat, Brayden Point and Nikita Kucherov remained mostly untouched during training camp, the remaining lines were changing frequently. The Lightning’s coaching staff tried several combinations and are expected to continue their experiments during the first weeks of the new season.
We will likely see Steven Stamkos playing on the third line with Perry and Colton as they already played during some pre-season games. Mathieu Joseph will get a chance to play on the second line with Alex Killorn and Anthony Cirelli, and both Raddysh and Katchouk will receive enough ice time to prove that they deserved an NHL spot.
Meanwhile, Pittsburgh is heading into the new season without some of their significant players. It was already known that Evgeni Malkin will be sidelined for at least couple of months due to his knee injury. Sidney Crosby has already started practicing after having a wrist surgery in September, but will miss two opening games of the season. Jake Guentzel is also not expected to play against the Lightning tonight. The Penguins forward has just returned to the team after testing positive for COVID-19 about a week ago, but isn’t ready to play yet.
After the season opener tonight, the Lightning will play two more games this week, both on the road. On Thursday, they will face the Detroit Red Wings and will finish the week with a game against the Washington Capitals on Saturday.
Tampa Bay Lightning Lines
Ondrej Palat - Brayden Point - Nikita Kucherov
Alex Killorn - Anthony Cirelli - Steven Stamkos
Corey Perry - Ross Colton - Mathieu Joseph
Patrick Maroon - Pierre-Edouard Bellemare - Taylor Raddysh
Victor Hedman - Jan Rutta
Ryan McDonagh - Erik Cernak
Mikhail Sergachev - Zach Bogosian
Pittsburgh Penguins Lines
Danton Heinen - Jeff Carter - Bryan Rust
Jason Zucker - Evan Rodrigues - Kasperi Kapanen
Brock McGinn - Teddy Blueger - Dominik Simon
Drew O’Connor - Brian Boyle - Sam Lafferty
Brian Dumoulin - Kris Letang
Michael Matheson - John Marino
Marcus Pettersson - Chad Ruhwedel