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
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
Victor Hedman - Jan Rutta (maybe)
Ryan McDonagh - Erik Cernak
Mikhail Sergachev - Andrej Sustr
Lines based on Monday’s practice
Florida Panthers Lines
Carter Verhaeghe - Aleksander Barkov - Anthony Duclair
Jonathan Huberdeau - Sam Bennett - Owen Tippett
Frank Vatrano - Anton Lundell - Sam Reinhart
Ryan Lomberg - Joe Thornton - Patric Hornqvist
Mackenzie Weegar - Aaron Ekblad
Gustav Forsling - Radko Gudas
Olli Juolevi - Brandon Montour
Lines based on daily faceoff. We will update if we here anything else.