In January, the Tampa Bay Lightning and Dallas Stars were supposed to have a Stanley Cup rematch, sparking what could’ve been an intense newly divisional rivalry. Unfortunately, the Stars were overwhelmed with a COVID-19 breakout and the game had to be postponed.
In February, the Lightning and Stars were supposed to have their second chance at a rematch, but unfortunately a severe climate emergency shocked Texas and its infrastructure and the game had to be cancelled due to a lack of electricity (which was the right thing to do).
So... Uh... Third time’s the charm?
Before we talk about the teams as they get set to play tonight, I just want to say that the Texas storm was scary. I remember last season when the Toronto Marlies were in Cedar Park and a big winter storm hit the area, cancelling the Texas Stars game. People couldn’t get to the rink, the teams didn’t know if the game was happening, and thankfully it was eventually called off and played at a later time. As a Canadian I think people expect us to laugh at people struggling with winter weather, but no, that stuff is scary. And seeing people unequipped to deal with a storm like that because, well, their climate never used to create storms like that, is scary. Ok, now that that’s out in the open, back to hockey.
Tampa Bay Lightning Lines
Since the Lightning had the day off yesterday and we don’t have practice lines, these are the lines from last game. They will be updated after morning skate, where we’ll discover who takes Cernak’s spot in the lineup following his injury on Thursday (probably Luke Schenn). Andrei Vasilevskiy is expected to start.
Anthony Cirelli has been skating this week with the Taxi Squad, with optimism floating about that he’s close to a return. We may see him tonight, or more likely Tuesday in Dallas, we will have to see. I’m leaving the possibility open.
In terms of the numbers, the Lightning moved Gemel Smith back to the Taxi Squad after he played on Thursday. If a rotation is still in order, and Cirelli is not good to go, it’s possible Alex Barre-Boulet or Ross Colton get in another game.
On defense, Andreas Borgman hasn’t played a game this season. Depending on who Sergachev gets paired with, I wouldn’t mind at least seeing him in a game. That said, Schenn has been the primary extra defender and McDonagh can probably make him look pretty good.
UPDATED: With morning skate lines. Cirelli and Cernak are in!
Notice Sergachev back on the top pairing, Cirelli with Stamkos, and the first line intact.
Ondrej Palat - Brayden Point - Blake Coleman
Alex Killorn - Anthony Cirelli - Steven Stamkos
Barclay Goodrow - Yanni Gourde - Tyler Johnson
Pat Maroon - Mathieu Joseph - Alex Volkov
Scratched: Alex Barre-Boulet, Ross Colton
Victor Hedman - Mikhail Sergachev
Ryan McDonagh - Erik Cernak
Jan Rutta - Cal Foote
Scratched: Luke Schenn, Andreas Borgman
Dallas Stars Lines
Here are the Stars lines from their last game, courtesy of Defending Big D.
The Stars don’t have the same firepower they did when we saw them in the Finals. Tyler Seguin is out with torn ligaments in his legs that he played through. Alexander Radulov is also injured, taking out two thirds of their top line (we can relate). Stephen Johns is still healing from his concussion injuries, and old friend Ben Bishop is also out indefinitely.
In terms of the players on the ice, things haven’t been going great for the Stars. They have two wins in their last 10, though four of their losses came in extra time. The Stars have also played the fewest games out of everyone this season — only 15 — after COVID outbreaks across the team and the deadly winter storm that took Texas made games impossible to play.
Without context, this time might be considered fresh. Though all the mental stresses, injuries, and having just played three games in four nights against the Florida Panthers, they’re probably not in the best shape.
In terms of the team on the ice, Joe Pavelski leads the team with an astounding 10 goals on 37 shots in 15 games. Eight of his goals have come on the power play where the Stars look pretty respectable, they are fifth in the league in conversion percentage (31%).
The Stars are near the top in power play minutes per game (because they’re top in penalty minutes per game). This has been to their benefit as the Stars have only given up 11 goals in 57 times shorthanded while scoring 17 on 55 power plays. Winning the special teams battle (or not having one at all) will be key for the Lightning.
Jamie Benn (14) - Radek Faksa (12) - Denis Gurianov (34)
Jason Dickinson (18) - Joe Pavelski (16) - Joel Kiviranta (25)
Andrew Cogliano (11) - Rhett Gardner (49) - Blake Comeau (15)
Jason Robertson (21) - Justin Dowling (37) - Nick Caamano (17)
Esa Lindell (23) - John Klingberg (3)
Jamie Oleksiak (2) - Miro Heiskanen (4)
Andrej Sekera (5) - Mark Pysyk (13)
Anton Khudobin (35)
Jake Oettinger (29)