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Tampa Bay Lightning at Colorado Avalanche: Preview and Game Day Thread

The Bolts are back to the action after a nine-day break

Colorado Avalanche v Tampa Bay Lightning Photo by Mark LoMoglio/NHLI via Getty Images

Tampa Bay Lightning at Colorado Avalanche: GAME #47

Time: 9:00 pm Eastern Time

Location: Amalie Arena

Broadcast/Streaming: ESPN+, BSSUN, ALT

Opponent SBNation Site: Mile High Hockey

The current month happened to be a little bit more relaxed than usual for the Tampa Bay Lightning. After all of the postponements due to COVID-19 outbreak at the end of the last year, the Bolts will play in just six games during February. Their last games was nine days ago, but the next two days, however, will be pretty intense as the Lightning will play back-to-back against the Colorado Avalanche and the Arizona Coyotes — the best and the worst teams in the Western Conference.

After missing the three most recent games due to being in COVID-19 protocol, Nikita Kucherov will return to the Lightning’s roster, potentially pushing Boris Katchouk out of the line-up. While the team’s forward lines will finally look optimal, the Lightning’s blueline is still far from it. According to head coach Jon Cooper, Erik Cernak is expected to return for the game against the New Jersey Devils on February 15. Zach Bogosian is a bit further from return, remaining in week-to-week category. Yesterday the Lightning put him on LTIR retroactive to January 15.

The Lightning also recalled Darren Raddysh from the Syracuse Crunch after the All-Star break. The older brother of Taylor Raddysh made his NHL debut at the end of 2021 and will likely play in his third regular season game tonight. In his first two games he shared most of his ice time with Ryan McDonagh and Victor Hedman, but was practicing with Cal Foote in their latest practice. It’s also easy to assume that Andrei Vasilevskiy will start this back-to-back against the Avalanche, while Brian Elliott will play tomorrow against the Yotes.

Just like the Lightning, the Avs played their last game nine days ago, surprisingly losing it 3-2 to the Coyotes. They are, however, one of the hottest team in the NHL right now, winning ten games in a row prior to the match-up against Arizona and their point streak is even more impressing and lasts 17 games already — the last time when the Avalanche didn’t record any point in a regular season game was on December 16, when they lost to the Nashville Predators. Not a surprise that Colorado is on the the top of the standings right know and one of the biggest Stanley Cup favorites this season.

The Avalanche’s biggest star Nathan MacKinnon won’t help his team against the Lightning tonight. He hasn’t cleared concussion protocol yet after sustaining a broken nose injury in a game against the Boston Bruins in late-January, due to which he also missed the All-Star Weekend in Las Vegas. While MacKinnon is struggling with injuries this season, Nazem Kadri has become one of the most important players for the Avs: in 41 games he already recorded 60 (19+41) points and is just two points away from his most productive season in NHL career. He’s currently third in the league in points and got his name into the Hart Trophy conversation. On defense Cale Makar is an emerging Norris Trophy favourite: the 23-year-old players has already 18 goals in 40 games, leading all the defencemen in the league in that category.

This is the second and the last game between these teams during this regular season. In the first game the Avs edged out the Lightning 4-3 in a shootout.

Tampa Bay Lightning Projected Lines

Forwards

Ondrej Palat - Brayden Point - Nikita Kucherov

Alex Killorn - Anthony Cirelli - Steven Stamkos

Pat Maroon - Pierre-Edouard Bellemare - Corey Perry

Mathieu Joseph - Ross Colton - Taylor Raddysh

Defense

Victor Hedman - Jan Rutta

Ryan McDonagh - Mikhail Sergachev

Darren Raddysh - Cal Foote

Goaltenders

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Brian Elliott

Colorado Avalanche Projected Lines

Forwards

Gabriel Landeskog - Mikko Rantanen - Valeri Nichushkin

Alex Newhook - Nazem Kadri - Andre Burakovsky

Tyson Jost - J.T. Compher - Logan O’Connor

Kurtis MacDermid - Mikhail Maltsev - Nicolas Aube-Kubel

Defense

Devon Toews - Cale Makar

Jack Johnson - Samuel Girard

Ryan Murray - Erik Johnson

Goaltenders

Darcy Kuemper

Pavel Francouz