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Florida Panthers at Tampa Bay Lightning Preview and Game Day Thread: How ya’ll doing?

The Lightning return to home ice short a pretty important player

NHL: OCT 05 Preseason - Panthers v Lightning Photo by Andrew Bershaw/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Florida Panthers at Tampa Bay Lightning: GAME FOUR

Time: 7:00 pm Eastern Time

Location: Amalie Arena

Broadcast/Streaming: ESPN+, BSSUN, BSFL, TVAS

Opponent SBNation Site: Litter Box Cats

Hey Lightning fans. How ya’ feeling? I know, not great. After all, I know you were looking forward to the game tonight and watching the Bolts take on those pesky Panthers from down south. Now, with the Nikita Kucherov injury, there is a little less joy out there.

That’s okay, though. Things are going to be okay. If we’ve learned anything from the last two seasons, it’s that this team is adaptable. They won a Stanley Cup without Steven Stamkos. They survived a shortened season without Nikita Kucherov. They won another Stanley Cup with Victor Hedman playing on a bum knee. This organization is all about adapting to adversity and finding a new way to win.

It sucks that Kucherov is hurt again. He is in the prime of his career and seemed ready for a dominant season (four points in three games). Now he’s going to be out for an indefinite time and once again the Lightning are going to adapt. Will it be Corey Perry stepping up and taking his spot (that seemed to be the indication from practice yesterday)? Will it be Stamkos jumping back on the top line? He’s done it before. Maybe it’ll be one of the rookies getting a shot and making the most of it.

Actually, chances are it’ll be a little bit of everything. Coach Cooper will adjust the lines until he finds the right combination. Embrace the change and roll with it!

The good news is that, while Kucherov may be out for a bit, they may be getting at least one of their defensive players back. Jan Rutta participated in practice on Monday and could be back in the line-up against the Panthers. That also opens up the possibility that Coach Cooper rolls with an 11/7 line-up since Andrej Sustr is still hanging around town.

However they decide to go, they have their work cut out for them as the Panthers head into town for the first meeting of the year. Well, at least the first one that counts. The two teams have already gotten to know each other with a few pre-season contests. Despite the familiarity this is the first time the two teams will be facing each other with their full rosters (well, minus Kucherov, of course).

The Panthers are off to a solid start, winning their first two games and putting up 10 goals in the process. They’ve done it as a team with five different players scoring goals and eight skaters already posting multiple points. Despite the talent they can roll out there, they’ve yet to score on their seven power play chances. That’s a bit disturbing because it means they are due to break out of that funk at some point.

After a solid defensive performance in Washington on Saturday, the Bolts are going to have their work cut for them against a Panthers team that can match them line for line. If the teams keep it clean and avoid the rough stuff, it should be a highly entertaining game.

Tampa Bay Lightning Lines

Forwards

Ondrej Palat - Brayden Point - Corey Perry

Alex Killorn - Anthony Cirelli - Steven Stamkos

Pat Maroon- Ross Colton - Mathieu Joseph

Boris Katchouk - Pierre-Edouard Bellemare - Taylor Raddysh

Defense

Victor Hedman - Jan Rutta (maybe)

Ryan McDonagh - Erik Cernak

Mikhail Sergachev - Andrej Sustr

Goaltenders

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Brian Elliott

Lines based on Monday’s practice

Florida Panthers Lines

Forwards

Carter Verhaeghe - Aleksander Barkov - Anthony Duclair

Jonathan Huberdeau - Sam Bennett - Owen Tippett

Frank Vatrano - Anton Lundell - Sam Reinhart

Ryan Lomberg - Joe Thornton - Patric Hornqvist

Defense

Mackenzie Weegar - Aaron Ekblad

Gustav Forsling - Radko Gudas

Olli Juolevi - Brandon Montour

Goaltenders

Spencer Knight

Sergei Bobrovsky

Lines based on daily faceoff. We will update if we here anything else.