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Florida Panthers at Tampa Bay Lightning Preview and Game Day Thread

The second instalment of the Sunshine State derby this season

Tampa Bay Lightning V Florida Panthers Photo by Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images

Florida Panthers at Tampa Bay Lightning: GAME# 27

Time: 4:30 pm Eastern Time

Location: Amalie Arena

Broadcast/Streaming: BSSUNX, SN360, ESPN+

DraftKings Odds: Lightning -1.5 O/U 6.5

Opponent SBNation Site: Litter Box Cats

To the delight of the NHL leadership, the Tampa Bay Lightning vs. the Florida Panthers rivalry has become one of the hottest match-ups in the whole league in recent seasons. With both teams playing competitive hockey the result has been two consecutive playoff series, although the last one was pretty one-sided. This season both teams are lower in the standings than they were last season: while the Lightning have been consistent lately, keeping the third position in the Atlantic division, the Panthers are currently out of the playoff race, trailing by one point to the Detroit Red Wings, who also played one game less.

With Anthony Cirelli back in the line-up, the Lightning coaching stuff shuffled their line combinations, moving Cirelli to the top line with Brandon Hagel and Brayden Point, while Nikita Kucherov took a spot on the right wing of the second line in the game against the Nashville Predators. That didn’t last long as Jon Cooper kept switching players from line to line the whole game.

Predicting the formation based on the practice will be tricky this time. Nikita Kucherov and Vlad Namestnikov missed the whole practice again due to a body maintenance day. It’s the second time they both missed the practice due to the same reason this week, but that didn’t stop them from playing against Detroit last time. Haydn Fleury appeared during practice, but is questionable for the game. Rudolf Balcers remains out indefinitely and will miss the game against his former team.

The Panthers are not an offensive powerhouse anymore. They’re just 10th in the league in goals for per game rate and their power play is just 23rd after being one of the top of the league in the recent years. This downgrade was expected after the team traded Jonathan Huberdeau, who was one of the best left wingers in the NHL last year, and were forced to not have Anthony Duclair who underwent surgery to repair an Achilles tendon injury in July.

This, however, doesn’t mean that Matthew Tkachuk, who was a return in a Huberdeau trade, has been terrible. In fact quite the opposite as Tkachuk has been leading the Panthers this season in points with 37 of them in 25 games. This is 13 points more than Carter Verhaeghe, a player with the second-highest amount of point on Florida roster.

The injuries were also a significant issue for the Panthers recently. Apart from Duclair, the team is also missing Patric Hornqvist, Radko Gudas, Spencer Knight and Anton Lundell.

This is second meeting between those teams this season. In the first game, the Lightning defeated the Panthers 3-2 in overtime. Brayden Point scored twice, including a game-winning goal in overtime.

Comparison chart:

Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Florida Panthers

Game # 19 Tampa Bay Lightning Florida Panthers
Game # 19 Tampa Bay Lightning Florida Panthers
Overall Record 16-9-1 13-10-4
Home Record 9-4-1 7-2-3
Road Record 7-5-0 6-8-1
Goals For 91 94
Goals Against 80 88
xGF 90.33 103.22
xGA 82.23 83.96
PP% 28.9% 20.6%
PK% 78.7% 76.5%

Tampa Bay Lightning Potential Lines

Forward Lines

Brandon Hagel - Brayden Point - Anthony Cirelli

Steven Stamkos - Nick Paul - Nikita Kucherov

Alex Killorn - Ross Colton - Pat Maroon

Vlad Namestnikov - Pierre-Edouard Bellemare - Corey Perry

Defense Pairings

Victor Hedman - Nick Perbix

Ian Cole - Erik Cernak

Mikhail Sergachev - Cal Foote

Goaltenders

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Brian Elliott

Florida Panthers

Forward Lines

Carter Verhaeghe - Sam Bennett - Matthew Tkachuk

Eetu Luostarinen - Aleksander Barkov - Sam Reinhart

Nick Cousins - Eric Staal - Colin White

Ryan Lomberg - Chris Tierney - Zac Dalpe

Defense Pairings

Gustav Forsling - Aaron Ekblad

Marc Staal - Brandon Montour

Matt Kiersted - Josh Mahura

Goalies

Sergei Bobrovsky

Spencer Knight