Time: 7:30 pm Eastern Time
Location: Little Caesars Arena
Broadcast/Streaming: ESPN+, BSDET, BSSUN
Opponent SBNation Site: Winging it in Motown
Alright, the Lightning have the whole banner raising, celebrate the Stanley Cup, Opening night stuff out of the way. The game that followed the excitement of the celebration was listless at best (unless you took the over and then the five empty net goal at the end was pretty darn exciting). Now, the real work of the season begins as they try and get back in sync and into the win column.
Detroit can be the best and worst team to take on in this situation. It’s good that the Lightning have an immense advantage in talent compared to the Red Wings. The bad part is that they will have to find a way to generate some intensity on their own. It’s easy to get excited to play the Florida Panthers or the New York Islanders, teams that the Lightning have developed a healthy grudge against in the last few year. Being able to get up for a game against a team that will likely be in the draft lottery at the end of the year is a little tougher.
Don’t expect many changes for the Lightning line-up up front. They should roll out pretty much the same players they did against the Penguins, but maybe in a slightly different line combinations. Coach Cooper did tinker with things throughout the game on Tuesday, flip-flopping some of the players on the third and fourth lines. There was also some thought that Boris Katchouk may cycle in for Taylor Raddysh, who struggled a bit in his debut, but based on yesterday’s practices it looks like Raddysh may get the start.
That’s not a bad idea. Raddysh knows he didn’t play his best so sitting in the press box and dwelling on it might not be great. Putting that performance behind him will be easier if he’s back on the ice. Kachouk will get his chance at some point soon, best to see if Raddysh can get back into the groove.
It does look like there may be a change on defense as Andrej Sustr was recalled Thursday morning. Zach Bogosian was a little banged up in the opener and may not be able to go in tonight's game.
Overall, the entire team just needs to play better. There were a lot of missed passes and unforced errors on Tuesday. They need to clean that up and focus on making the simple plays to get the pucks out of the zone before worrying about their offense. Their success always comes from building from the defensive zone and moving the puck cleanly through the neutral zone.
On the other side of the ice, the Red Wings are still working on their rebuild. They are still many players away from being competitive with the Lightning, Panthers, and Maple Leafs. Still, some of their prospects are ready to get going on their NHL careers so it should be fun to see how they do. Moritz Seider (defense) and Lucas Raymond (forward) are two youngsters that should help take the pressure off of Dylan Larkin this year. Filip Zadina is immensely talented and could have a breakout season.
It will also be a good chance to see a nice collection of former Lightning players as Vlad Namestnikov, Adam Erne, and Mitchell Stephens are all expected to be in the line-up. They did suffer a big blow when Jakub Vrana, who excelled for them last year after getting picked up at the trade deadline, aggravated a shoulder injury that will keep him on the sidelines for about four months.
In net Bolts fans are familiar with the play of Alex Nedeljkovic from his season with the Hurricanes last year. He’s expected to make the bulk of the starts with veteran Thomas Greiss as the back-up.
It’s the first of four meetings between the two teams and the Lightning have to expect to sweep the series. If they can get back to their basics, that shouldn’t be a problem.
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 - Andrej Sustr
Detroit Red Wings Lines
Tyler Bertuzzi - Dylan Larkin - Lucas Raymond
Robby Fabbri - Pius Suter - Filip Zadina
Vlad Namestnikov - Michael Rasmussen - Adam Erne
Givani Smith - Mitchell Stephens - Sam Gagner
Dan Dekeyser - Filip Hronek
Nick Leddy - Moritz Seider
Marc Staal - Gustav Lindstrom
(Lines based on DailyFaceoff.com, we will update when information is provided)