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Tampa Bay Lightning at Anaheim Ducks Preview and Game Day Thread

The Lightning’s defence is still far from optimal

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Anaheim Ducks v Tampa Bay Lightning Photo by Scott Audette/NHLI via Getty Images

Tampa Bay Lightning at Anaheim Ducks: GAME #42

Time: 10:00 pm Eastern Time

Location: Honda Center

Broadcast/Streaming: ESPN+, BSSUN, SNE, SNO, SNP, BSW

Opponent SBNation Site: Anaheim Calling

The Tampa Bay Lightning are continuing their trip through California with a game against the Anaheim Ducks tonight. They managed to get a win in the first game against the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday despite playing with just four defencemen, proving their “Tampa Bay Find-A-Ways” nickname, which has been a running joke inside the Lightning’s locker room this season [ed. note - also a t-shirt that you can buy here]

The depleted Lightning’s blueline remains the main headline ahead of the upcoming game. Erik Cernak appeared at yesterday’s practice, but was seen mostly sitting on the bench in a hoodie and sandals. Jan Rutta, who hasn’t played since the game against the Dallas Stars, wasn’t there at all. With those two players, as well as Zach Bogosian who’s expected to miss from two to three weeks due to lower body injury, absent the Lightning rolled a pretty unusual pair of Daniel Walcott and Andrej Sustr at the morning skate.

For Walcott it could be his second career NHL game, he made his debut in the last regular season game of the 2020-21 season against the Florida Panthers. Interestingly, Walcott made his debut playing as a forward, but current circumstances force him to return to his natural position in which he started his career in professional hockey.

According to Jon Cooper it’s too early to tell which defenceman will be available tonight in Anaheim, however it will be definitely more than four players this time. As an insurance, the Lightning recalled defenceman Fredrik Claesson from the Syracuse Crunch to the taxi squad. Coach Cooper also mentioned that Ondrej Palat is “doubtful“ for tonight’s game.

As for the Ducks, their team is one of the most improved teams in the NHL comparing to previous seasons. For the first time in four years, the Ducks are in the playoff race and after half a season are sitting in third place in the Pacific Division. However, the things has been pretty tough recently for them, as the Ducks have lost eight of their last ten games, including losing four consecutive games prior to tonight’s game. The team is currently missing several players, including two of their top defencemen Cam Fowler and Josh Manson, their backup goaltender Anthony Stolarz and one of their most productive offensive players Sonny Milano. Last Man In All-Star Troy Terry has also missed previous games due to entering COVID-19 protocol.

The reason behind Anaheim’s relatively decent results this season is the team’s young core. Terry is having a real breakout season and already passed his career high in points in just 38 games. He’s leading the Ducks with 36 (22+14) points and his 22 goals put him in top-6 in goals in the whole league. Trevor Zegras is one of the favourites of this season’s Calder Trophy race after recording 29 (10+19) points in 36 games. A 19-year old James Drysdale has been eating some tough minutes for his team, slowly becoming one of the leaders of the Ducks’ defence.

It will be a special night for Corey Perry, who played for the Anaheim Ducks in almost thousand regular season games and won the Stanley Cup with them in 2007. So far he played just once against his former team during the 2019-20 season as a Dallas Star but never played in Anaheim in opposite team’s jersey. [ed. note - celebrate with a ‘Scorey Perry’ t-shirt which you can buy here. O.K. I’m done]

Tonight’s game will be a first leg of back-to-back set for the Lightning. Tomorrow they will face the San Jose Sharks in the last game of their California trip.

Tampa Bay Lightning Projected Lines

Forwards

Mathieu Joseph - Brayden Point - Nikita Kucherov

Alex Killorn - Anthony Cirelli - Steven Stamkos

Pat Maroon - Pierre-Edouard Bellemare - Corey Perry

Boris Katchouk - Ross Colton - Taylor Raddysh

Defense

Victor Hedman - Cal Foote

Ryan McDonagh - Mikhail Sergachev

Daniel Walcott - Andrej Sustr

Goaltenders

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Brian Elliott

Anaheim Ducks Projected Lines

Forwards

Trevor Zegras — Ryan Getzlaf — Rickard Rakell

Max Comtois — Sam Steel — Vinni Lettieri

Derek Grant — Isac Lundestrom — Jakob Silfverberg

Nicolas Deslauriers — Sam Carrick — Buddy Robinson

Defense

Hampus Lindholm — Jamie Drysdale

Jacon Larsson — Kevin Shattenkirk

Brandon Guhle — Greg Pateryn

Goaltenders

John Gibson

Lukas Dostal