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

Can the Lightning get back to being the Lightning? Oh, and stay out of the penalty box

Columbus Blue Jackets v Tampa Bay Lightning Photo by Mark LoMoglio/NHLI via Getty Images

Columbus Blue Jackets at Tampa Bay Lightning: GAME#39

Time: 7:00 pm Eastern Time

Location: Amalie Arena

Broadcast/Streaming: BSSUNX, BSOH, ESPN+, HULU

Opponent SBNation Site: The Cannon

DraftKings Odds: Lightning -1.5 O/U 6

Preview:

“We’re not turning the page on this one.”

Those were Coach Cooper’s words after practice on Monday. It’s a different message than we usually hear from the coach after poor performances. After all he’s somewhat famous for the “What’s great about today, is that it’s not yesterday” quote from the playoffs last spring.

He’s a generally optimistic coach that pushes the positive more than the negative. So the fact that, two days after the fact, he’s still not pleased with the way the Lightning played on the road trip should be an indication of how serious he is about stopping the sloppiness that has crept into their game.

At the same time he praised the squad as being one that is extremely self-correcting. That is something they have shown time and time again over the last few seasons, and tonight’s game gives them one more opportunity to show their resilience. Avoiding long losing streaks has been a hallmark of this team and they need to stop the bleeding right now.

The good news is that the Columbus Blue Jackets should provide an excellent opportunity to right the ship. To say the Blue Jackets have struggled this year is a bit of an understatement. After making a big splash in the summer by signing Johnny Gaudreau everything that could go wrong, pretty much has gone wrong.

The injuries started early and kept racking up. It’s not just role players, but important parts like Zach Werenski, Jake Bean, Jakub Voracek, and Boone Jenner. The players that are on the ice haven’t been able to make up the gap. Keeping pucks out of the net has been their biggest issue as their 3.87 GA/60 is third worst in the league. So is their 3.37 GA/60 at 5v5. They are giving up 48.37 unblocked shots per 60 minutes, second worst in the league. With all of those shots, the goaltenders haven’t been able to bail them out.

While Coach Cooper hopes not to have to see his penalty kill units on the ice, they should have a decent chance of keeping the puck out of the net if the Blue Jackets do get a power play since they’re only converting at a 16% success rate.

On paper, this should be a victory for the Lightning. Columbus has only won twice on the road while the Lightning are riding a 7-game winning streak at Amalie Arena. In every statistical category the Lightning are favored so common sense says they should win. However, the Lightning have to execute their game plan. They can’t just go out and think they are going to win. Limit the turnovers. Make the simple plays. For goodness sake, don’t take stupid penalties.

As for the line-up. Victor Hedman did not practice on Monday as he remains with his wife as the birth of their second child remains imminent. Per Coach Cooper he is expected to play tonight, but that could change based on the situation. Rudy Balcers was practicing in a non-contact jersey and is expected to be ready for game action within a week. Zach Bogosian is likely a game-time decision as well, he practiced, but was not on a regular pairing.

Comparison chart:

Tampa Bay Lightning

Forward Lines

Brandon Hagel - Brayden Point - Nikita Kucherov

Anthony Cirelli - Steven Stamkos - Alex Killorn

Ross Colton - Nick Paul - Pat Maroon

Vlad Namestnikov - Pierre-Edouard Bellemare - Corey Perry

Defense Pairings

Mikhail Sergachev - Nick Perbix

Ian Cole - Erik Cernak

Haydn Fleury - Cal Foote

Goaltenders

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Brian Elliott

Lines based on practice with Victor Hedman out (pending newborn), Zach Bogosian cycling in with the Fleury/Foote pairing, and Rudy Balcers jumping into the fourth line.

Columbus Blue Jackets

Forward Lines

Johnny Gaudreau - Kent Johnson - Emil Bemstrom

Gus Nyquist - Jack Roslovic - Patrik Laine

Liam Foudy - Sean Kuraly - Mathieu Olivier

Kirill Marchenko - Cole Sillinger - Carson Meyer

Defense Pairings

Vladislav Gavrikov - Andrew Peeke

Tim Berni - Erik Gudbranson

Gavin Bayreuther - Marcus Bjork

Goalies

Elvis Merzlikins

Joonas Korpisalo

Lines based on last game.