Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Detroit Red Wings: GAME 9
Time: 7:00 pm Eastern Time
Location: Amalie Arena
Broadcast/Streaming: Fox SUN, FS-D, ESPN+
Opponent SBNation Site: Winging it in Motion
The Tampa Bay Lightning close out their four-game home stand by throwing things back to 2004. Tonight’s game will be the first of three times this season that they wear their new Reverse Retro sweaters.
Back to the future! Fantastic @TBLightning reverse retro jerseys await for Friday’s game vs @DetroitRedWings. 6:30 pm— Paul Kennedy (@PaulKennedyFOX) February 4, 2021
Hopefully, they don’t reverse the way they’ve been playing during their current winning streak. They’ve taken the first three games, two against Nashville and one against Detroit, to propel their way up the standings in the Central Division.
It would be easy to look past the Red Wings, who are without a win in their last seven games, but they really can’t afford to throw away any points in this shortened season. Based on their performance over the past two games, it does seem that the Lightning are finally getting into a rhythm now that they aren’t taking a week off between games.
A good sign that the Bolts won’t squander this game away is that they haven’t been relying on just one line to produce offense. Five of their top six forwards have at least six points on the season while the defense has chipped in five goals as well. Teams that have balanced scoring like that are hard to contain on a night-to-night basis.
Still, the Lightning have to play like they did in the third period on Wednesday, and not fall into the trap of looking forward to a weekend off. If they take any team in this league lightly, it could lead to an embarrassment (see Ottawa beating Montreal on Thursday night). Take care of business and move on to Nashville.
Will there be any changes to the Detroit line-up? Possibly. Young forward Filip Zardina returned to practice on Thursday after being cleared from the COVID protocol list. The 21-year-old missed the last seven games, all loses, and should provide a little more offensive flair for the Red Wings.
Even if he’s been cleared medically it could take a game or two for him to get back up to full game speed. Part of their slow start last game may be attributed to having four players coming back into the line-up after missing time.
Goaltender Jonathan Bernier also practiced with the team, but coach Jeff Blashill wasn’t sure he would be ready to go for the game. So expect some combination of Thomas Greiss and Calvin Pickard again.
Expect the Lightning to roll out the same line-up as they have the last two games. After all, if it ain’t broke why fix it? Curtis McElhinney might be in line for his first start of the season. It would be a nice spot to work him back into action after almost an entire year off.
If he starts tonight then there would be a nice little in-season rest for Andrei Vasilevskiy before a tough stretch of hockey. Assuming McElhinney starts one of the back-to-back games against Nashville, Vasilevskiy would have six out of seven days off. That would be more important if the Bolts hadn’t had such a scattered start to the season, but it’s still important to work in breaks where they can for their number one netminder.
Fun With Charts
It’s the 5v5 shot map from the last game between the two teams. A couple of things stand out at first glance:
The Lightning were able to get a lot of shots from an extremely dangerous spot on the ice, the slot. Against better defenses those shots tend to be blocked before they get to the net, but a combination of the Lightning’s ability to get shots through traffic and Detroit’s inability to keep up with Tampa Bay’s offense when it’s clicking.
Detroit generated almost nothing on the right side of the ice when they did make it into the Lightning zone. That makes sense considering the strength of the Bolt’s blueline is on the left side. Victor Hedman, Mikhail Sergachev, and especially Ryan McDonagh have been really good of late of erasing any type of offense in their zone.
Tampa Bay Lightning Lines
Ondrej Palat - Brayden Point - Steven Stamkos
Alex Killorn - Anthony Cirelli - Tyler Johnson
Blake Coleman - Yanni Gourde - Barclay Goodrow
Pat Maroon - Mathieu Joseph
Victor Hedman - Jan Rutta
Ryan McDonagh - Erik Cernak
Mikhail Sergachev - Cal Foote
Detroit Red Wings Lines
Robby Fabbri - Dylan Larkin - Bobby Ryan
Taro Hirose - Vadislav Namestnikov - Anthony Mantha
Mathias Brome - Valtteri Filppula - Givani Smith
Adam Erne - Luke Glendening - Darren Helm
Filip Hronek - Patrik Nemeth
Danny Dekesyer - Christian Djoos
Marc Staal - Troy Stecher