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

Finishing the homestand

Tampa Bay Lightning v Columbus Blue Jackets Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images

Columbus Blue Jackets at Tampa Bay Lightning: GAME# 29

Time: 7:00 pm Eastern Time

Location: Amalie Arena

Broadcast/Streaming: BSSUN, BSOH, ESPN+

Opponent SBNation Site: Jackets Cannon

Preview:

The Tampa Bay Lightning are finishing their longest homestand this season with a game against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Their numbers during that extended stay at Amalie Arena are pretty strong as the Bolts have lost just once the last five games. Overall through their last 13 games, the Lightning suffered a loss just three times, which allowed them to settle comfortably in third place in the Atlantic Division. Currently they are five points ahead than the next team Detroit Red Wings, but still seven points behind than the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Vlad Namestnikov, who missed the previous game against the Seattle Kraken, appeared at yesterday’s practice in a regular jersey and will potentially return to the lineup for tonight’s game against Columbus. Mikhail Sergachev also participated in that practice after blocking the shot with his hand in the previous game and leaving the ice afterwards. The only missing player is Rudolf Balcers, who remains to be out indefinitely.

Andrei Vasilevskiy has been one of the main reasons of the Lightning’s strong performance lately. After a relatively sloppy start of the season, a Lightning goalie looked more like himself in recent games. Since Thanksgiving his .935 SV% and 1.87 GAA are aming the best in the whole league. He also returned to the top-10 in goals saved above expected in the NHL. There’s a chance though that Brian Elliott will take a place in the net against the Blue Jackets as he usually does against the teams from bottom of the standings. Elliott currently holds the longest active winning streak in the league with six consecutive wins.

Tonight’s game is going to be the second meeting between those teams this season. In October the Bolts defeated the Blue Jackets 5-2 in one of the most dominating games of the season. Steven Stamkos led the Lightning with two goals on that night.

The Blue Jackets’ lineup has changed significantly since that moment. While Patrik Laine, who was out with an injury at the beginning of the regular season, returned to the lineup, Zach Werenski and Jakub Voracek had moved to an injured reserve. Both players will potentially miss the rest of the season. Amongst other missing players are defenseman Jake Bean, Adam Boqvist and goaltender Joonas Korpisalo. In those tough conditions the Blue Jackets forced to play more of their young prospects, which resulted in some younger players as Yegor Chinakhkov and Kent Johnson playing more significant roles for Columbus, on the other side, Cole Sillinger, who had a strong rookie season last year, has been struggling so far and have just five points in 28 games. Goaltending has also been an issue for the team: the team is bottom-five in save percentage and their nominally third goaltender Daniil Tarasov has stronger numbers than more experienced Korpisalo or Elvis Merzlikins.

Columbus is currently at the bottom of the Metropolitan Division, three points behind the Philadelphia Flyers. They have a 3-6-1 record over their last ten games and coming off of the devastating loss to the Florida Panthers in their previous game. The Blue Jackets have also a poor record while laying on the road, winning just two games out of nine contests. The Blue Jackets’ power play is dead last in the league with 14.1 percent of conversion rate, which should be a weakness on which the Lightning should capitalize in tonight’s game.

Comparison Chart:

Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Columbus Blue Jackets

Game # 29 Tampa Bay Lightning Columbus Blue Jackets
Game # 29 Tampa Bay Lightning Columbus Blue Jackets
Overall Record 18-9-1 10-16-2
Home Record 11-4-1 8-10-1
Road Record 7-5-0 2-6-1
Goals For 101 80
Goals Against 83 114
xGF 97.03 81.57
xGA 87.99 92.91
PP% 27.9% 14.1%
PK% 80.2% 78.3%

Tampa Bay Lightning Potential Lines

Forward Lines

Brandon Hagel - Brayden Point - Nikita Kucherov

Steven Stamkos - Nick Paul - Alex Killorn

Ross Colton - Anthony Cirelli - 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

Columbus Blue Jackets Potential Lines

Forward Lines

Gus Nyquist - Boone Jenner - Johnny Gaudreau

Patrik Laine - Jack Roslovic - Yegor Chinakhkov

Kent Johnson - Cole Sillinger - Kirill Marchenko

Eric Robinson - Sean Kuraly - Mathieu Olivier

Defense Pairings

Vladislav Gavrikov - Marcus Bjork

Tim Berni - Erik Gudbranson

Jake Christiansen - Andrew Peeke

Goaltenders

Elvis Merzlikins

Daniil Tarasov