Closing out 2009; Montreal at Tampa Bay game preview

WHERE St. Pete Times Forum, Tampa, Florida
MEDIA 620 WDAE (radio)

The Lightning are streaking, having won four of their past five, and there is no TV for this game in the Tampa/St. Pete Market (unless you have Center Ice, that is). All the more reason for people to get out of the house and get down to Times Palace to see Les Habs and Les Bolts in tonight's matchup in person.

Speaking of television, the Tampa/St. Pete Market (and much more broadly) is being held hostage by News Corp. ongoing demands over a re-transmission payments.  I won't get into this because personal opinion of News Corp (the parent company of Fox film and television) would cloud the entire point...  But the important thing to say is that Lightning games will possibly be blacked-out (along with other Fox stations) if an agreement is not reached by the end of the year (Thursday at 11:59:59 PM).

Ah, but this is television we're talking about here.  What about the thing that matters -- hockey?

I could (and should) be making a big deal about Olympic team selections (or the lack there of), but that isn't the matter at hand right now.  The matter at hand is the next game of thsi 82 game NHL season.  Olympic talk is for another post at another time.

The Lightning have not won three games in a row all season and are actually on one of the best five game stretches of the season as well... When you look at the way this team has won -- regulation victories, not stealing points through overtime or the shootout -- this may be the best five game streak of the season. The one-goal wins against the Thrashers and the Bruins weren't as close as the final scores showed.

And with the mediocrity of the Eastern Conference this season, the Bolts have brought themselves back into contention for a playoff spot. They're currently tied with the Panthers for third place in the Southeast division, one point behind Atlanta for second...

...and two points behind the Montréal Canadiens for the 7th seed in the Eastern Conference.

The Habs have won seven this month, including a four game win streak that was snapped by the Senators on Monday night. But like was pointed out above - the Habs are only two points in front of the Lightning in the standings and four in front of division-rival, the resurgent Toronto Maple Leafs.

Montreal is being helped along greatly by their power play unit at current.  They're converting on 25% of their opportunities - best in the NHL.  Their Penalty Kill unit is equally formidable, with a 84.2 kill ratio, that's good for eight in the league.

The Lightning have not had a three game winning streak this season, what a way to close out the year on a high note if they were to accomplish that tonight.

We'll try to have line combos up a little later on.

Other Previews

Tampa Bay Lightning official team preview

Full Canadiens coverage on Habs Eyes On The Prize