Chicago Blackhawks at Tampa Bay Lightning: GAME #67
Time: 7:00 pm Eastern Time
Location: Amalie Arena
Broadcast/Streaming: ESPN+, BSSUN, NBCSCH
Opponent SBNation Site: Second City Hockey
For the second time in as many games the Lightning are catching a team on the second half of a back-to-back. The ‘Hawks were in Sunrise last night taking on the division-leading Florida Panthers. Florida shut them out 4-0, but Chicago still managed to put up 37 shots.
After their recent stretch, the Lightning make no apologies for any scheduling issues other teams may be facing. Besides the Bolts themselves are starting a back-to-back as they will be taking on the Montreal Canadiens Saturday night. At first blush both of these games should be winnable for the Lightning, but, while neither Chicago or Montreal will be heading to the postseason, it doesn’t mean either game will be easy.
Chicago has found their offense of late. Prior to the Florida game they scored four or more goals in each of their last five games. Driving that play has been their top line of Patrick Kane, Dylan Strome, and Alex DeBrincat. This trio is as good as any top line in the league and has posted a combined 27 points (9 goals, 18 assists) over that time period. Of those points, 18 have come at even strength which is pretty strong play.
With that kind of offensive push the ‘Hawks are piling up the wins, right? Not quite. Out of those five games they are just 1-3-1 with their lone win coming against the Anaheim Ducks. The problem with Chicago is that their defense is a mess, and the depth outside of the top line hasn’t really carried their weight. That brings us to two old friends - Boris Katchouk and Taylor Raddysh.
Sent to The Windy City as part of the Brandon Hagel trade the duo has seen their playing time increase a bit with their new team. Raddysh in particular has seemingly found a home on the second line with Jonathan Toews and Dominik Kubalik, averaging 13:12 per game, an increase of about 3:30 from his time with the Lightning. In six games with his new team he’s put up 5 points (2 goals, 3 assists). Both of his goals have come on the power play while all three of his assists (all primary) have come at 5v5. Possession has been a bit of a problem as he’s posted a 40.31 CF% and 39.39 xGF%.
The Boriscuda hasn’t seen as much ice time as his life-long buddy, averaging 10:15 per game, nor has he recorded a point yet. Much like Raddysh Katchouk is getting buried in possession with a 28.68 CF% and 29.97 xGF%.
With the success we’ve seen with the Lightning, those possession numbers look quite ghastly, but it’s still a rebuilding process for the ‘Hawks. Raddysh and Katchouk are a couple or building blocks for Chicago and next year will be their big year to show growth. Still, there is a pretty good chance that they want to show the Lightning exactly what they gave up on with a good performance tonight.
As for the Lightning, they seem to have righted the ship over their three game winning streak. After an uncharacteristic three-game streak of posting xGF% of under 50%, they’re back to pushing play against their opponents. What they need to make sure they’re doing over the next two nights is make sure they’re not falling into bad habits. If they keep doing the little things that make them successful, it’ll take care of the bigger things.
Tampa Bay Lightning Projected Lines
Steven Stamkos - Brayden Point - Nikita Kucherov
Ondrej Palat - Anthony Cirelli - Alex Killorn
Brandon Hagel - Nick Paul - Ross Colton
Patrick Maroon - Pierre-Edouard Bellemare - Corey Perry
Victor Hedman - Jan Rutta
Mikhail Sergachev - Erik Cernak
Zach Bogosian - Cal Foote
Chicago Blackhawks Potential Lines
Alex Debrincat - Dylan Strome - Patrick Kane
Dominik Kubalik - Jonathan Toews - Taylor Raddysh
Boris Katchouk - Reese Johnson - Sam Lafferty
Phillipp Kurashev - Henrik Borgstrom - Tyler Johnson
Jake McCabe - Caleb Jones
Seth Jones - Erik Gustafsson
Riley Stillman - Calvin de Haan