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Minnesota Wild at Tampa Bay Lightning Preview and Game Day Thread

The Lightning kick off a tought three game homestand.

Tampa Bay Lightning v Minnesota Wild Photo by Bruce Kluckhohn/NHLI via Getty Images

Minnesota Wild at Tampa Bay Lightning: GAME #46

Time: 7:00 pm Eastern Time

Location: Amalie Arena

Broadcast/Streaming: BSSUN, BSN, BSWI, Hulu, ESPN+

Opponent SBNation Site: Hockey Wilderness

DraftKings Odds: Lightning -1.5 O/U 6.5

Preview:

So, the good news. It looks like there is a chance that Nick Perbix will return to the line-up against his hometown Minnesota Wild. The rookie hasn’t been in the line-up since the Bolts were in St. Louis last week (and he had put up 4 points in 2 games) as he’s been dealing with an unidentified upper-body injury. Coach Jon Cooper listed him as a “maybe” following the team’s practice on Monday.

The not-so-good news. Veteran Pat Maroon is, as of that very same practice, an unknown quantity. The Big Rig is also dealing with an upper-body injury after he was the meat in a Calgary hit sandwich and then fell awkwardly to the ice in their last game.

The return of Perbix would allow Coach Cooper to realign his defensive core to their optimal pairings as we saw during the Lightning’s nice long winning streak. However, if Maroon can’t go, the coaching staff may deploy an 11/7 rotation with either Cal Foote or Haydn Fleury rotating in as the extra defenseman. There is also the chance that Rudy Balcers is recalled from his conditioning assignment in Syracuse in time for the game and he plays for the first time since November 25th (also against St. Louis - what is it with players getting hurt against the Blues).

No matter who is in the line-up for the Bolts, they are going to need their best players to be at their best if they are going to end their two-game losing streak. While the Lightning’s depth has long been their trademark, they do need their big guns to play up to their ability in order to compete and beat times at the upper echelon of the standings. It’s not going to be easy with the Wild (7th in the Western Conference), Boston Bruins (1st in the NHL), and Los Angeles Kings (5th in the Western Conference) in town on this homestand.

It’s hard to criticize the top line for Tampa Bay after the season they’ve put together, but they were noticeably absent in the loss to Calgary and at times against Edmonton as well. They are the engine for the Lightning and against a Minnesota team that allows less than 3 goals per game, it would be nice to see them get back into their scoring rhythm.

The last time these two teams met back at the beginning of the month, it was a pretty thorough victory for the Wild as they skated to a 5-1 victory on their home ice. That was also the game Brian Elliott played on back-to-back nights for the first time in a long time due to Andrei Vasilevskiy’s illness. In all likelihood, the Big Cat will be in net tonight and try, for the third time, to pick up his 250th win. It’s been awhile since he’s dropped three regulation losses in a row, the last time being March 19th-24th, 2022. So expect a determined netminder for the Lightning.

Minnesota comes in on a two-game losing streak as well having lost 5-2 to the Carolina Hurricanes and 5-3 to the Florida Panthers. They kicked off their annual Dad’s trip with a 4-2 win in Washington, but their usually stout defense has let them down over the last two games. Defenseman Matthew Dumba, who has been a healthy scratch recently, is scheduled to return to the line-up. While the Wild insist his recent stint in the press box isn’t trade related, at this time of year it is always a possibility. Another defensive asset, forward Marcus Foligno is a game-time decision as he battled back from an illness.

If the Lightning can get back to playing their style of hockey - aggressive, fast, and precise they can run their home-winning streak to ten. However, they will need their best players to step forward in order to do so.

Also, looks who is back in the building!

Comparison chart:

Minnesota at Tampa Bay Game 2 Comparison

Game #46 Tampa Bay Lightning Minnesota Wild
Game #46 Tampa Bay Lightning Minnesota Wild
Overall Record 29-15-1 25-16-4
Home Record 17-4-1 13-8-1
Road Record 12-11 12-8-3
Goals For 163 143
Goals Against 135 130
xGF 154.86 142.35
xGA 144.45 129.02
PP% 27.1% 23.9%
PK% 80.5% 79.1%
Stats via NHL and Natural Stat Trick

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

Victor Hedman - Zach Bogosian

Mikhail Sergachev - Nick Perbix

Ian Cole - Erik Cernak

Goaltenders

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Brian Elliott

Minnesota Wild Potential Lines

Forward Lines

Kirill Kaprizov — Sam Steel — Mats Zuccarello

Jordan Greenway — Joel Eriksson Ek — Brandon Duhaime

Ryan Hartman — Frederick Gaudreau — Matt Boldy

Mason Shaw — Connor Dewar — Ryan Reaves

Defense Pairings

Jake Middleton — Jared Spurgeon

Jonas Brodin — Matt Dumba

Jon Merrill — Calen Addison

Goalies

Marc-Andre Fleury

Filip Gustavsson