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Tampa Bay Lightning at Chicago Blackhawks Preview and Game Day Thread

The Lightning look to continue a long winning streak in Chicago.

Hawks vs. Lightning Scott Strazzante/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Tampa Bay Lightning at Chicago Blackhawks: GAME#35

Time: 8:30 pm Eastern Time

Location: United Center

Broadcast/Streaming: BSSUN, NBCSCH, Hulu, ESPN+

Opponent SBNation Site: Second City Hockey

DraftKings Line: Lightning -1.5 O/U 6.5

Preview:

The Tampa Bay Lightning kick off the 2023 portion of their schedule (and a three-game road trip) in The Windy City tonight against the Chicago Blackhawks. Lets face it, this is a game they should win. While the Bolts have their eyes set on the playoffs and another run at the Stanley Cup, it wouldn’t be surprising if most of the Chicagoland area is focusing more on how Connor Bedard is doing than how Connor Murphy is playing.

As it stands right now, Chicago, currently in last play in the league, has the best odds of landing the dynamic playmaker who is tearing up the World Juniors right now. They’ve lost four in a row and are 1-9 in their last 10 games. While the banners still hang from the rafters, the glory of their run in the 2010s is fading fast.

Not only is there a talent gap between the two teams currently, the Lightning have always fared pretty well against Chicago with an all-time record of 32-15-5-4 against them including a 14-7-0-3 record in the United Center. Oh, and they haven’t lost in regulation in Chicago since December 13, 2009, going 10-1-3 during that stretch. Victor Hedman and Steven Stamkos are the only Lightning players to still be on the roster from that 4-0 loss while Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews are the only Chicago players who remember what it’s like to beat the Lightning at home (bonus points to current Lightning LTIR member Brent Seabrook for his two assists in that game).

However, the Lightning can’t let history or current struggles allow them to take it easy tonight. Chicago does have enough talent to put Lightning mistakes into the back of the net. Kane is still up to his old tricks with 27 points (7 goals, 20 assists) in 36 games while Jonathan Toews has rediscovered his goal-scoring tough with 11 in 35 games, just one off the total he put up last season.

Some familiar names dot the ‘Hawks roster as Tyler Johnson has persevered through some injuries to earn a spot on their top line with 8 points (3 goals, 5 assists) in just 14 games. Taylor Raddysh has discovered his goal-scoring with 10 goals (second on the team behind Toews and Max Domi) while Boris Katchouk has 3 points (1 goal, 2 assists) while finding time on the fourth line.

For the Lightning, it’s a matter of going out and executing their game plan and limiting their turnovers. With the roster pretty much healthy at this point (Rudy Balcers is still out, but is practicing with the team) it’s a matter of finding the right combinations outside of the top line in order to generate depth scoring. The team can’t go into the playoffs relying on just their power play and the Brayden Point line to provide all of the offense. Based on yesterday’s practice lines it appears Anthony Cirelli and Alex Killorn will flank Stamkos on the second line while Nick Paul, Ross Colton, and Patrick Maroon make up the third line.

For Stamkos, he enters action with 498 career goals against a team that he has scored 16 goals in 25 games against.

If the Bolts stay disciplined and committed to their game plan, they should kick off 2023 with a nice win.

Comparison chart:

Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Chicago Blackhawks

Game #35 Tampa Bay Lightning Chicago Blackhawks
Game #35 Tampa Bay Lightning Chicago Blackhawks
Overall Record 23-11-1 8-24-4
Home Record 15-4-1 5-13-2
Road Record 8-7 3-11-2
Goals For 126 79
Goals Against 102 137
xGF 120.37 88.41
xGA 110.97 118.87
PP% 27.6% 20.2%
PK% 82.3% 73.2%
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 - Patrick 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

Chicago Blackhawks Potential Lines

Forward Lines

Tyler Johnson — Max Domi — Patrick Kane

Phillip Kurashev — Jonathan Toews — Tyler Raddysh

Andreas Athanasiou — Jason Dickinson — Sam Lafferty

Boris Katchouk — Reese Johnson — Colin Blackwell

Defense Pairings

Jake McCabe — Seth Jones

Isaak Phillips — Connor Murphy

Jack Johnson — Caleb Jones

Goalies

Petr Mrazek

Alex Stalock