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Tampa Bay Lightning at Anaheim Ducks Preview and Game Day Thread

Getting ready for the second half of a back-to-back in California

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Tampa Bay Lightning v Anaheim Ducks
ANAHEIM, CA - JANUARY 21: Mathieu Joseph #7 of the Tampa Bay Lightning and Isac Lundestrom #21 of the Anaheim Ducks battle for the puck during the first period at Honda Center on January 21, 2022 in Anaheim, California.
Photo by Debora Robinson/NHLI via Getty Images

Tampa Bay Lightning at Anaheim Ducks: GAME# 8
Time: 10:00 pm Eastern Time
Location: Honda Center
Broadcast/Streaming: TNT, BSSUNX, SN360, Sling TV
Opponent SBNation Site: Anaheim Calling

Preview:

Good morning, hopefully last night’s late game didn’t drain you too much because we got another round of it tonight against the Anaheim Ducks. The Tampa Bay Lightning are going to be playing on the second night of a back-to-back for the third time this season that’s only eight games old. And they’re doing it on a night where their best forwards played upwards of 26 minutes a night each.

Nikita Kucherov skating for 25:22 last night is the 5th most he’s played in a regular season game, and highest since a 2018-19 game against Boston. For Brayden Point, 26:55 is the most he’s played in a regular season game and 5th most in any game of his career. And this was all in October against LAK on the road on the first leg of a back-to-back. This was also a night where the Lightning dressed 11 forwards (Koepke out for Fleury).

To me, this says the Lightning are stuck with a lack of scoring depth and the inability to cycle through their lines with full trust and commitment. The fourth line barely played 11 minutes and the third line only 13. That leaves 36 minutes to be split between the top two lines, but specifically Point, Kucherov, and Stamkos who all played at least 23 minutes.

It’s always easier to play with the lead because the drop-off in defensive ability is less among forwards when you go down the lineup than offensive ability going down the lineup. So far this season the Lightning have three, maybe four guys scoring. Whereas defensively you can even trust the fourth line to do a bit of it. For the record, the opposite tends to happen with defenders, where the top guys are used more to hold leads but otherwise the allotment is pretty normal.

This issue of scoring depth has started to come up a little more as we’ve gotten a sample of games to look back on. It’s still early, but I expected more out of Paul, and while Hagel has scored a couple goals, he’s going to need consistent production for us to believe he is what we expected him to be.

Talking about the Anaheim Ducks for a minute, have had two full days off since their trip to the northeast, but they’ve gotten off to a poor 1-4-1 start where they sit bottom three in the league in shot share, goals, expected goals, and scoring chances. Only Arizona has been abjectly worse than them, but at least Arizona has two wins. For comparison, the Lightning are in the middle of the league in those categories seven games into their season. Not where they want to be, but accurate for where they are.

Jon Cooper said yesterday that they won’t be bringing a forward over from Syracuse for this trip, and if they do have a forward injury then they’ll play seven defenders, which is what they did last night. It’s possible Koepke comes back into the lineup unless he’s injured. We don’t know at the moment. As for putting in a spare beyond Koepke, Myers is available to slot in for one of the defenders who played nine minutes last night.

For the Ducks, we’ll see old friend Kevin Shattenkirk on their third pair. To give an update on John Gibson the goalie, he has a .892 save percentage this season and has been a .904 for three years prior. It’s always possible he can have a great night, but it’s becoming less and less often as he turns (jeez) 29 with five years remaining on his contract.

Tampa Bay Lightning

Forward Lines

Brandon Hagel - Brayden Point - Nikita Kucherov
Alex Killorn - Steven Stamkos - Vlad Namestnikov
Ross Colton - Nick Paul
Pat Maroon - Pierre-Edouard Bellemare - Corey Perry
Cole Koepke

Defense Pairings

Victor Hedman - Erik Cernak
Mikhail Sergachev - Nick Perbix
Ian Cole - Cal Foote
Haydn Fleury
Philippe Myers

Goaltenders

Andrei Vasilevskiy
Brian Elliott - projected starter

Anaheim Ducks

Forward Lines

Adam Henrique - Trevor Zegras - Troy Terry
Mason McTavish - Ryan Strome - Frank Vatrano
Maxime Comtois - Isaac Lundestrom - Jakob Silfverberg
Max Jones - Derek Grant - Pavel Regenda

Defense Pairings

Cam Fowler - Jamie Drysdale
Dmitry Kulikov - John Klingberg
Nathan Beaulieu - Kevin Shattenkirk

Goaltenders

John Gibson - projected starter
Anthony Stolarz