Time: 7:00 pm Eastern Time
Location: Amalie Arena
Broadcast/Streaming: ESPN+, BSSUN, ROOT-NW
Opponent SBNation Site: Davy Jones Locker Room
After being founded in 1992, the Tampa Bay Lightning don’t have a long history of playing against NHL teams in their inaugural seasons. Over seven first games against an expansion franchise they have recorded three wins, three losses and one tie (against the Atlanta Thrashers in 1999-00 season). The last three games, however, weren’t very successful as the Lightning lost to the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Minnesota Wild in 2000-01 season and to the Vegas Golden Knights in 2017-18 season. Tonight they have a chance to improve their stats as they play the Seattle Kraken for the first time in their history.
Despite playing without three of their key players, the Lightning are still managing to collect points almost every night. Over the last month they’ve left the ice just once without points and are seated in third place in the Atlantic Division. In the absence of their leaders the Lightning have seen other players stepping up. Corey Perry finally ended his goal drought, scoring his first as a Bolt on Wednesday night. Before that game Perry had one of the lowest goals scored above expected rate in the league and watching him scoring that goal was a big relief. Hopefully it will boost his confidence.
The Lightning also received some unexpected support from Pat Maroon on power play, which was one of the most problematic area of the Lightning’s performance in October. Another veteran, Zach Bogosian, also was a big help on the right side of the Lightning’s defence and even scored his first goal since the 2019-20 season, when he played for the Buffalo Sabres. Erik Cernak is expected to return as soon as tonight, but Bogosian might still stay in the line-up, pushing Cal Foote to the bench.
The Lightning re-assigned defenceman Fredrik Claesson to the Syracuse Crunch, which might be another indication that Erik Cernak is ready to return. Nikita Kucherov and Brayden Point won’t likely return at least until Christmas, which means that Alex Barre-Boulet will remain in the line-up. With Point out Barre-Boulet is playing in top-six role on the line with Steven Stamkos and Ondrej Palat and while his ice time didn’t increase much since early games of the season, he’s efficiently using this time and scored two goals in two previous games. Tonight’s game also will be a little bit special for him as Seattle was the team which claimed him from the waivers before the start of the season and placed him back just two games later.
In the recent past, the Vegas Golden Knights have spoiled our expectations of an expansion team. Over their first four seasons in the league, the Golden Knights reached the Stanley Cup final in their very first season and played twice in the Conference Finals, never missing postseason so far. The current season and the Seattle Kraken, however, proves us that it was an exception. The Kraken’s roster, which looked even better on the paper in off-season prediction, have been massively struggling at the start of the season. Following a six-game losing streak in which they were outscored 17-21 the Kraken have unexpectedly beaten two strong teams in the Washington Capitals and the Carolina Hurricanes. The team is still currently sitting at the lowest place in the Pacific Division and is second-worst in the league in goals against per game.
Our old friend Yanni Gourde has recovered from off-season surgery and is currently one of the best players on the Kraken roster with 11 (5+6) points in 15 games so far. Jordan Eberle leads the team with nine goals and Jaden Schwartz has the most assists (12) and points (16) than any other player from Seattle. After finishing third in the Vezina Trophy race with the Colorado Avalanche last season, Philipp Grubauer is facing lots of issues with his new team. He’s currently one of the worst goaltenders in the league in goals saved above expected per 60 minutes, but played his best game of the season in the last game against Carolina. We will see if this trend will continue against Tampa.
Tonight, Philipp Grubauer posted his highest Goals Saved Above Expected number of the season against Carolina (2.18). His last game (2021-11-21 against Washington) he posted his 3rd highest GSAx this season. A trend correction perhaps? pic.twitter.com/xkgIycqJ6Q— Evolving-Hockey (@EvolvingHockey) November 25, 2021
The Lightning’s extended homestand ends tonight: the team will play in seven road games over the next two weeks with a short return to Amalie Arena on December 2.
Tampa Bay Lightning Lines
Alex Killorn — Anthony Cirelli — Mathieu Joseph
Ondrej Palat — Steven Stamkos — Alex Barre-Boulet
Patrick Maroon — Pierre-Edouard Bellemare — Corey Perry
Taylor Raddysh — Ross Colton — Boris Katchouk
Victor Hedman — Jan Rutta
Ryan McDonagh — Zach Bogosian
Mikhail Sergachev — Cal Foote
Seattle Kraken Lines
Jordan Eberle — Alex Wennberg — Marcus Johansson
Jaden Schwartz — Yanni Gourde — Calle Jarnkrok
Brandon Tanev — Jared McCann — Joonas Donskoi
Colin Blackwell — Morgan Geekie — Ryan Donato
Mark Giordano — Jamie Oleksiak
Jeremy Lauzon — Adam Larsson
Carson Soucy — Vince Dunn