Time: 7:00 pm Eastern Time
Location: Amalie Arena
Broadcast/Streaming: BSSUN, BSOH
Opponent SBNation Site: The Canon
After a disappointing split with the Carolina Hurricanes, disappointing since the ‘Canes were able to take three points and push their lead in the division a bit, the Tampa Bay Lightning have to find the motivation to play their next two games against a team that is simply playing out the season. The Columbus Blue Jackets are in town for two game, albeit with a nice weekend off in between, and despite technically still in the playoff race, their season is over.
At this point the Blue Jackets are shuttling players in and out of the line-up in an attempt to see what they have for next season. They had a dismal start to the week in South Beach dropping a pair of games with an aggregate score of 9-3. Since the trade deadline defense has been, well to be nice, a bit of a problem.
Since shipping out veteran players at the deadline like Nick Foligno and David Savard (hey, we know him!) the Blue Jackets have played five games and have lost them all (one was in overtime, so they’ve picked up one point). The combined scores of the five games was 22-8. So offense has been an issue as well.
Coach John Tortorella has acknowledged that they don’t have the talent on the ice to compete with Florida or Tampa Bay, but he still expects his players to go out there and put forth an honest effort. He may have conceded the playoffs, but he isn’t giving up any games on a night-by-night basis.
Expect them to be tough to play against. The Lightning have shown a troubling lack of consistency in recent weeks and while a two-game series against a struggling team might seem like the perfect recipe to right what ails them. they can’t go out there and expect to win just by showing up at the game.
Make no mistake, the Lightning need to win both games if they want to stay in the race for the top spot in the Central. More importantly they need to execute their game plan for 60 minutes on both nights. It looked they were getting their game back on Saturday in the first game against Carolina, but took two steps back in their last meeting when their breakouts were sloppy and they were a step behind the ‘Canes all night.
While Columbus doesn’t have the depth Carolina does, their top line is competent and Patrick Laine on the second line is always dangerous. The Lightning need to roll their depth and keep the pressure on all night long. It would be nice to see some players snap their goalless droughts as well.
Anthony Cirelli - 16 games
Tyler Johnson - 15 games
Patrick Maroon - 12 games
Ondrej Palat - 13 games
That’s five players that play significant amount of time with double digit streaks without goals. They must be gripping their sticks into sawdust at this point. At this point they just have to keep grinding away and stick to the game plan. The goals will come at some point, but they can’t cheat the game in order to find their missing offense.
If they outwork the Blue Jackets, their talent will carry them to victory. Unless, of course, Joonas and Elvis goalie them in the series.
Tampa Bay Lightning Lines
Ondrej Palat - Brayden Point - Alex Barre-Boulet
Alex Killorn - Anthony Cirelli - Tyler Johnson
Barclay Goodrow - Yanni Gourde - Blake Coleman
Patrick Maroon - Ross Colton - Mathieu Joseph
Victor Hedman - Erik Cernak
Ryan McDonagh - David Savard
Mikhail Sergachev - Luke Schenn
McElhinney was the first off the ice, looks like he’ll be starting tonight.
Columbus Blue Jackets Lines
Oliver Bjorkstrand - Jack Roslovic - Cam Atkinson
Stefan Matteau - Alexandre Texier - Patrick Laine
Eric Robinson - Max Domi - Nathan Gerbe
Ryan MacInnis - Josh Dunne - Kole Sherwood
Michael Del Zotto - Seth Jones
Vladislav Gavrikov - Mikko Lehtone
Dean Kukan - Gavin Bayreuther
Elvis gets the start with Max Domi and Nathan Gerbe in the line-up. Kevin Stenlund is out and Zach Dalpe is out to be with his wife as she is close to delivering their baby.