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Tampa Bay Lightning at St. Louis Blues Preview and Game Day Thread

The Lightning mark the midpoint of the season by starting a five-game road trip.

St Louis Blues v Tampa Bay Lightning Photo by Mike Carlson/NHLI via Getty Images

Tampa Bay Lightning at St. Louis Blues: GAME #41

Time: 8:00 pm Eastern Time

Location: Enterprise Center

Broadcast/Streaming: BSSUN, BSMW, ESPN+, HULU

Opponent Site: St. Louis Blues

DraftKings NHL Odds: Lightning -1.5 O/U 6.5

Preview:

In an 82-game season it’s hard to say any game is more important than any other, nor is any stretch of games more important. After all, a win in October is worth the same amount of points as a win in April. That being said, this upcoming five-game road trip for the Tampa Bay Lightning does seem to have a certain extra weight to it. After Thursday’s win against the Vancouver Canucks at home, Coach Jon Cooper said that the goal for this road trip is the same as any other - to come home with more points than games played.

So, with five games on the trip the Lightning are looking to pull in at least 6 points. A 3-2 road trip would be nice considering four of the five teams are among the top 10 in the Western Conference and have winning records. If this was a home stand, where the Lightning have the league’s second best record at 17-4-2, and a nine-game winning streak, that wouldn’t seem like a difficult task. However, the road has been a different story where the Bolts are currently nursing a 9-9 record and have lost 4 of their last 5 games with less than stellar outings in their last two. This trip will be a real test to see how the Lightning can fare outside of their friendly confines against top competition.

Offensively, they are scoring more than a goal less on the road than at home (2.94 vs. 4.09) while allowing more (3.33 vs. 2.64). In fact pretty much all of their numbers are down on the road especially in the 5v5 possession stats where they are at 2.62 xGF/60 on the road vs. 3.3 xGF/60 at Amalie Arena. They generate fewer shots and fewer high-danger chances while away from friendly ice as well.

Oddly enough, goaltending, at least Andrei Vasilevskiy, has been about the same on the road, posting a .919 SV% and 2.53 GAA at home and a .914 SV% and 2.51 GAA average on the road.

A solution to their average road play would be to get more scoring from their lower lines as teams would then have to have to direct their defensive energies away from the Brayden Point line. It would also help if they stayed out of the penalty box, something that was a huge distraction in their road losses to Winnipeg and Minnesota.

St. Louis will be an interesting test for them to kick off this road trip. The Blues have battled injuries and poor play for most of the season, but are just two points out of the second wild card spot in the Western Conference. They have been good on the road (13-10-1) but are a game below .500 at home (8-9-2). January has seen them win games against Toronto and Minnesota, but also a loss to Montreal. Inconsistency has been a problem in a season that boosts an seven-game winning streak as well as an eight-game losing streak.

The good news for Blues fans is that it appears Nick Leddy will return to the line-up tonight after missing four games with an upper-body injury. They are, however, still without the services of Vladimir Tarasenko and Robert Bortuzzo (who was just placed on Injured Reserve a few days ago).

Goaltending has been an issues as both Jordan Binnington and Thomas Greiss have struggled in net with both sporting GAAs above 3.00. Binnington in particular has had a rough year as his save percentage is at an ugly .892 through 32 appearances.

Tonight should be a game where the Lightning offense has a chance to put some pucks in the net on the road. As long as they take care of the puck and stay out of the box, they should have a chance to start things off on the right foot.

Comparison chart:

Tampa Bay Lightning at St. Louis Blues Comparison

Game #41 Tampa Bay Lightning St. Louis Blues
Game #41 Tampa Bay Lightning St. Louis Blues
Overall Record 26-13-1 21-19-3
Home Record 17-4-1 8-9-2
Road Record 9-9 13-10-1
Goals For 144 137
Goals Against 119 155
xGF 138.9 122.34
xGA 126.41 143.88
PP% 28.9% 24%
PK% 80.9% 73.3%
Stats via NHL and Natural Stat Trick

Tampa Bay Lightning Potential Lines

Forward Lines

Brandon Hagel - Brayden Point - Nikita Kucherov

Anthony Cirelli - Steven Stamkos - Alex Killorn

Ross Colton - Nick Paul - Patrick Maroon

Vlad Namestnikov - Pierre-Edouard Bellemare - Corey Perry

Defense Pairings

Victor Hedman - Zach Bogosian

Ian Cole - Erik Cernak

Mikhail Sergachev - Nick Perbix

Goaltenders

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Brian Elliott

St. Louis Blues Potential Lines

Forward Lines

Pavel Buchnevich - Robert Thomas - Jordan Kyrou

Brandon Saad - Brayden Schenn - Ivan Barbashev

Jake Neighbours - Noel Acciari - Josh Leivo

Alexi Toropchenko - Nikita Alexandrov - Tyler Pitlick

Defense Pairings

Niko Mikkola - Colton Parayako

Nick Leddy - Justin Faulk

Tyler Tucker - Calle Rosen

Goalies

Jordan Binnington

Thomas Greiss