Chicago Blackhawks at Tampa Bay Lightning preview: Be our guests

The day after Amalie hosted Disney on Ice will welcome a Chicago crew hopefully fresh off the fishing boat.

Chicago Blackhawks @ Tampa Bay Lightning: GAME #75

Time: 7:30 pm Eastern Time

Location: Amalie Arena

Broadcast/Streaming: NBCSN,TVAS,CSN-CH

Opponent SBNation Site: Second City Hockey


Remember a few weeks ago when the Leafs walked into Sunrise and lost 7-2, and then came up to Tampa only to hand the Bolts one of the team's shut-outs of this season? Let's hope that this isn't the case again tonight.

The Chicago Blackhawks must've gone fishing in Miami, because they played one of their worst games of the year. Apparently the Blackhawks are so defensively minded that they aren't used to numbers over five against them -- and they suffered their worst loss since 2011 (to Edmonton, 9-2), on the strength of a hat trick from former Bolt Jonathan Marchessault.

Let's pause here to appreciate Marchessault for a moment. He had his first career hat trick yesterday, and it was pretty glorious. We sure could've used that offensive power on the Bolts these past five months, but we're glad he's getting money and first-line minutes. Here’s hoping our Southern rival is better next season so that we can admire and hate Marchessault’s part in their victories all the more.

Before Chicago’s loss to the Panthers, they’d gone on a five-game winning streak, broken by a loss to Vancouver, and another win over Dallas. Why did the Hawks lose so badly in Sunrise?

They’ve been having an increase in undisciplined games of late, and Saturday’s had penalties by our old friend Richard Panik, Ryan Hartman (hooking, unsportsmanlike), Marcus Kruger (interference), and Patrick Kane (roughing), leading to a quick 3-0 Panthers lead by second intermission. Cory Crawford, who has been on a ridiculous run this season (48-3-6), was pulled in favor of Scott Darling, and we're keeping our eye out to see who starts tonight.

Here's what Blackhawk Up had to say about their mounting penalty minutes:

The penalty on Kruger that gave the Panthers a 5-on-3 powerplay turned the game around. The Blackhawks were in it up until that point. However, it’s not only this game. The ’Hawks have been in the box too much in the last three or four games. They have to resolve their problems to keep themselves out of the sin bin.

It could also be that Chicago did not care because they've more than clinched. First in the West is a good place to be; they will likely face the St. Louis Blues, Nashville Predators, or Calgary Flames in the first round, and the Blackhawks have the 102 points to maintain their position. Minnesota is a not-even-close second, so Chicago could take a southern spring break vacation for the next game and still have a comfortable pad for first. (Please?)

The first time these two teams met this season was in Chicago, a 5-2 victory that was a glimmer of hope in the dark stretch of January. Tyler Johnson scored two goals in 30 seconds, and other goals were scored by Brian Boyle, Nikita Nesterov, and Nikita Kucherov. At least Tampa still has two (wait, only one, Johnson is still injured) of these four players.

Tampa and Chicago are interesting teams to compare. They have similar stats at even strength, although Tampa is the weaker team for generating dangerous shots. Chicago is slightly above average at generating shots but also slightly below average in generating dangerous shots, meaning that overall, they're below average in generating expected goals. Tampa, on the other hand, is roughly the same in expected goals, but generates fewer dangerous shots.

Unlike Tampa, the Blackhawks have not done as well at suppressing dangerous shots this season. The fact that they have been able to win a majority of games while still registering a relatively weak defense means that their goaltending has been superb. This is where Tampa has a chance — if defenders are not going to suppress shots, putting more shots of all types on the goaltender has a better chance to convert.

Will Tampa continue their push toward a playoff berth tonight, or will they fall to one of the tougher teams in their remaining seven games? The team has been so difficult to predict this season that it’s hard to tell. Either way, here’s hoping for good, clean hockey with NO injuries.

Comparison Chart

Lines will be updated after morning skate.

Tampa Bay Lightning


Ondrej Palat - Brayden Point - Nikita Kucherov

Alex Killorn - Vladislav Namestnikov - Jonathan Drouin

JT Brown - Gabriel Dumont - Luke Witkowski

Adam Erne - Yanni Gourde - Joel Vermin


Victor Hedman - Jake Dotchin

Slater Koekkoek - Anton Stralman

Braydon Coburn - Andrej Sustr


Andrei Vasilevskiy

Peter Budaj

Chicago Blackhawks


John Hayden - Jonathan Toews - Richard Panik

Artemi Panarin - Ryan Hartman - Patrick Kane

Nick Schmaltz - Marcus Kruger - Marian Hossa

Dennis Rasmussen - Tanner Kero - Jordin Tootoo


Duncan Keith - Niklas Hjalmarsson

Johnny Oduya - Brent Seabrook

Brian Campbell - Trevor van Riemsdyk


Scott Darling

Corey Crawford