Time: 7:00 pm Eastern Time
Location: Scotiabank Arena
Broadcast/Streaming: NHL Network, BSSUN, TSN4
Opponent SBNation Site: Pension Plan Puppets
After some frustrating results at the start of the regular season, it seems like the Tampa Bay Lightning have finally found their game and started gaining points on a regular basis. After beating the Washington Capitals on Monday, the Bolts extended their winning streak to three games, which is their longest winning streak so far this season. Tonight they’re facing the Toronto Maple Leafs.
During this winning streak the Lightning outscored their opponents 13-4, allowing just two of those goals at 5v5. Andrei Vasilevskiy has been an outstanding, difference-making player over that span. In the last game he kept the Lightning in the game, making some very important saves at the right time and preventing the Washington Capitals from a comeback. Overall this season he’s still negative with just -1 GSAx, which was caused by some early games, but he’s slowly heading towards positive numbers.
As Matt pointed out in his latest recap, the Bolts are still struggling with figuring out their identity this season. The coaching staff keeps shuffling the line combination from game to game in search of more suitable line combinations. The Lightning, however, have been more consistent recently at 5v5 and even managed to bring their lifeless power play back to life, scoring two goals with man advantage over the last two games.
More is also expected from the Lightning’s rookies. Taylor Raddysh has just recorded his first NHL point in the latest game, which hopefully gives him more confidence. Alex Barre-Boulet has been solid on the power-play, but needs to become more consistent at 5v5. During the latest practice, he skated on a line with Steven Stamkos and Ondrej Palat and as the previous season showed, he can be more efficient if the coaching staff allow him to play higher in the line-up. Corey Perry is not a rookie, but he’s still waiting for the first point in the Lightning’s jersey. He showed enough leadership on and off the ice and earned the honor to wear the letter “A“ on his jersey, but still struggling to get on the scoreboard.
According to Lightning beat writer Bryan Burns, all recently injured defencemen should be available for tonight’s game. Victor Hedman and Erik Cernak missed the latest practice due to maintenance days after some incidents involving the Capitals’ Tom Wilson in the recent game, but are expected to play tonight in Toronto.
Jan Rutta, who missed the latest game, should be good to go too. On the other side, Boris Katchouk might need more time and is questionable for the whole road trip. The Lightning rookie suffered an undisclosed injury during Sunday’s practice. Zach Bogosian, who is on injured reserve since the first game of the season, appeared at Tuesday’s practice as a spectator and is potentially two to three weeks away from returning.
Just like the Lightning, the Leafs also had a relatively slow start of the season. The team is also on a three-game winning streak and have the same number of points as the Lightning (11 points), but played one less game. The previous game against the Vegas Golden Knights was probably one of the best games of the season for the Leafs with one of the best performances from their leaders Mitch Marner and Auston Matthews, who have been slightly underperforming so far this season. The team received unexpected help from not so obvious players like Michael Bunting and Jason Spezza; both of whom have been very consistent so far.
The Lightning return to Canada for the first time since playing in “bubble“ during the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs and also will play in their first regular season game on a Canadian soil since March 10, 2020 (which also happened to be against Toronto).
Tampa Bay Lightning Lines
Alex Killorn - Brayden Point - Anthony Cirelli
Ondrej Palat - Steven Stamkos - Alex Barre-Boulet
Patrick Maroon - Ross Colton - Corey Perry
Mathieu Joseph - Pierre-Edouard Bellemare - Taylor Raddysh
Victor Hedman - Jan Rutta
Ryan McDonagh - Erik Cernak
Mikhail Sergachev - Andrej Sustr
Toronto Maple Leafs Lines
Michael Bunting - Auston Matthews - William Nylander
Alexander Kerfoot - John Tavares - Mitch Marner
Pierre Engvall - David Kampf - Ondrej Kase
Nick Ritchie - Jason Spezza - Wayne Simmonds
Morgan Rielly - Travis Dermott
Jake Muzzin - T.J. Brodie
Rasmus Sandin - Timothy Liljegren