Time: 7:00 pm Eastern Time
Location: Amalie Arena
Broadcast/Streaming: ESPN+, BSSUN, MSG
Opponent SBNation Site: All About the Jersey
The Lightning are back in action following their somewhat successful California trip where they won two out of three games. Now, back at home, they look to continue their two-game home winning streak as they take on the New Jersey Devils. Tampa Bay may also be looking for a little revenge against the Devils who defeated them earlier this season, 5-3, in a game that saw the Bolts uncharacteristically blow a third-period lead.
All signs point to Ondrej Palat and Jan Rutta returning to the line-up for the Bolts, needed additions considering they will be without Nikita Kucherov, who is currently in COVID protocols. Not operating with their full roster is par for the course for the Lightning this season as they have yet to ice their full line-up at any point. Still, they’ve managed to find their way to the top tier of the standings as they head into the slowest part of their season.
Tonight kicks off a stretch where they play just eight games until the end of February so it should be a golden chance for everyone to get healthy. Health, more than standings, is important to this team as they strive to continue their Stanley Cup streak. Hopefully, by the time the schedule kicks back in earnest in March, Erik Cernak and Zach Bogosian will be ready to go.
As for the Devils, they head down to Tampa mired in a bit of mediocrity. They are 4-6-0 in their last 10 games and have dropped to 7th in the highly competitive Metro Division. Only the woeful Flyers are keeping the Devils out of the bottom spot in that division.
Goaltending and defensive injuries aren’t helping them out. With Mackenzie Blackwood heading to the IR, Akira Schmid and Jon Gillies are their duo. Gillies will likely get the start tonight. The former Calgary Flames 3rd-round pick has appeared in 6 games this year and posted a 3.03 GAA and .905 SV%. He was pretty good in relief in his last outing, stopping 24-of-25 in a 5-1 loss that saw starter Schmid struggle.
The Devils have also been without the services of two of their top defensemen as Dougie Hamilton and Ty Smith have been out injured. Both players are with the team on their current road trip but probably won’t suit up tonight. Also out of the line-up is Michael McLeod who was injured in Tuesday’s game.
If the Bolts can contain Jesper Bratt, chances are they can win. Bratt is having a strong season with 37 points (14 goals, 23 assists) in 38 games, but he’s been the only player filling the net on a regular basis. They are 21st in the league in goals with just 117 in 41 games while their power play is converting at just 16.96% (25th in the league).
Tampa Bay Lightning Projected Lines
Ondrej Palat - Brayden Point - Anthony Cirelli
Alex Killorn - Steven Stamkos - Mathieu Joseph
Pat Maroon - Pierre-Edouard Bellemare - Corey Perry
Boris Katchouk - Ross Colton - Taylor Raddysh
Victor Hedman - Cal Foote
Ryan McDonagh - Mikhail Sergachev
Fredrik Claesson - Jan Rutta
New Jersey Devils Projected Lines
Andreas Johnsson - Jack Hughes - Jesper Bratt
Pavel Zacha - Nico Hischier - Tomas Tatar
Yegor Sharangovich - Dawson Mercer - Jimmy Vesey
Janne Kuokkanen - ? - Nathan Bastian
Jonas Siegenthaler - Damon Severson
Ryan Graves - P.K. Subban
Colton White - Christian Jaros