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Tampa Bay Lightning at Columbus Blue Jackets Preview and Game Day Thread

With a couple of days off, the Lightning look to bounce back from a so-so season debut

Tampa Bay Lightning v Columbus Blue Jackets Photo by Ben Jackson/NHLI via Getty Images

Tampa Bay Lightning at Columbus Blue Jackets: GAME #2

Time: 7:00 pm Eastern Time

Location: Nationwide Arena

Broadcast/Streaming: BSSUN, BSOH, NHL Network

DraftKings Line: Lightning -1.5 O/U 6.5

Opponent SBNation Site: Jackets Cannon

Preview:

We will credit Victor Hedman with the first official “We’ve got better in us” quote of the 2022-23 season. A common refrain from coach Jon Cooper over the past two years, it’s the team’s way of saying that they just didn’t play up to the level they expect in the season-opening loss to the New York Rangers. Coach Cooper echoed those words when he told reporters, “We didn’t execute, didn’t make the plays we needed,” following the 3-1 defeat.

With a couple of days off in between games, hopefully the Lightning were able to work on the little details that they need to execute in order to get their game up to the level they’ve come to expect. Even strength play was fine for most of the game. Through the first two periods of the game they more than held their own leading in scoring chances (17-15) and high-danger chances (9-6). Things kind of fell apart in the third as the Rangers absolutely smoked them all across the board, but part of that was due to the amount of penalties that both teams handed out, robbing the flow of the game a bit for the Bolts.

Not to dwell too much on the penalty kill, but while killing off three of the four penalties seems like a positive thing, it was only by the skin of their teeth (and the flexibility of Andrei Vasilevskiy) that they were able to pull it off. In 6:12 of short-handed time, the Lightning faced 23 total shot attempts with 14 reaching the netminder. The Rangers racked up 15 scoring chances, 8 of which were of the high-danger variety. All of that led to 2.38 expected goals for the Rangers. So, silver lining, it could have been worse.

During several of those shorthanded shifts, the Lightning’s lack of execution led to failed clears and extended zone time for New York. It also led to long shifts for the penalty killers. According to Natural Stat Trick, four penalty killers had shifts that averaged more than one minute in length:

Erik Cernak - 1:21

Mikhail Sergachev - 1:06

Alex Killorn - 1:01

Nick Paul - 1:01

That’s not great. It’s also exhausting and can take a shift or two after the penalty is over for the players to recover. Expect them to focus more on clearing the puck and keeping those shifts short against Columbus should they hit the penalty box again tonight.

As for the Blue Jackets. The debut of Johnny Gaudreau was slightly tarnished by the fact that Patrik Laine suffered a sprained elbow:

He’s going to miss 3-4 weeks. The Blue Jackets were also without starting goaltender Elvis Merzlikins who was apparently dealing with an illness. The good news for them is that he was back at practice on Thursday and that rookie Kent Johnson was back practicing with the team after he was “sent” to the AHL for the opener so that they could recall a back-up goalie.

Expect Nationwide Arena to be buzzing as Johnny Hockey makes his home debut. It’s a shame that Laine was injured because the line of Gaudreau, Laine and Boone Jenner was a force against Carolina, posting an 80% CF and 92.55% xGF while scoring the lone Columbus goal. Losing Laine definitely hurts a team where scoring will come at a premium.

Comparison chart:

Game Two Comparison

Game # 2 Tampa Bay Lightning Columbus Blue Jackets
Game # 2 Tampa Bay Lightning Columbus Blue Jackets
Overall Record 0-1-0 0-1-0
Home Record 0-0-0 0-0-0
Road Record 0-1-0 0-1-0
Goals For 1 1
Goals Against 3 4
xGF 2.78 2.75
xGA 5.82 3.77
PP% 16.70% 0%
PK% 75% 100%
Stats from Natural Stat Trick and NHL.com

Tampa Bay Lightning

Forward Lines

Brandon Hagel - Brayden Point - Nikita Kucherov

Nick Paul - Steven Stamkos - Alex Killorn

Ross Colton - Vlad Namestnikov - Corey Perry

Cole Koepke - Pierre-Edouard Bellemare - Patrick Maroon

Gabriel Fortier

Defense Pairings

Victor Hedman - Cal Foote

Mikhail Sergachev - Erik Cernak

Haydn Fleury - Phillipe Myers

Goaltenders

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Brian Elliott

Based on lines at Thursday’s practice per Gabby Shirley. It is possible that Brian Elliott gets the start as the Bolts have a back-to-back. We will update the lines if we hear any changes.

Columbus Blue Jackets

Forward Lines

Johnny Gaudreau - Boone Jenner - Justin Danforth

Yegor Chinakov - Jack Roslovic - Jakub Voracek

Gustav Nyquist - Cole Sillinger - Kent Johnson

Eric Robinson - Sean Kuraly - Mathieu Olivier

Possibly injured: Patrik Laine

Defense Pairings

Zach Werenski - Adam Boqvist

Vladislav Gavrikov - Andrew Peeke

Jake Bean - Erik Gudbranson

Goalies

Elvis Merzlikins (maybe)

Daniil Tarasov

Lines are based on what they rolled out in their first game with notes from yesterday’s practice per Jeff Svoboda.