Flip side of back-to-back; Tampa Bay Lightning at Florida Panthers preview

The flip side of back-to-back games sees the Lightning in Sunrise to face the Florida Panthers at 5 PM... Who the hell chose this start time?

Where:  BB&T Arena, Sunrise, Florida
When: 5 PM EDT  | Tickets: Check availability
Media: Sun Sports (cable) | 970 AM WFLA (radio)
Opponent Coverage: Litter Box Cats

I made a point in the Lightning vs. Sabres game thread that tried to play down a lack of going full-tilt, full game against the Sabres last night. It's one that can be dismissed, it can be criticized (because, hey, these guys are pros - this isn't midgets or something), or it could be understood but not liked:

Tama Bay has back-to-back games, and they have to have something in the tank for this afternoon/evening/who planned this start time anyway at BB&T Arena in Sunrise.

The Bolts fell behind against the Sabres in part by not playing as if there were no game tomorrow. Buffalo came back and took the lead on what was Ben Bishop's 10th and 11th goal allowed since the Boston game last weekend. That got frustrating, as the team in front of Ryan Miller had played the night before. Miller, though, was playing like Ryan Miller of days gone by: 39 shots faced 36 saves. There were more opportunities passed up by the Bolts to shoot, which was frustrating some people. There was more want for the Lightning to be physically reactive to Buffalo as they turned up the heat later in the game... But it turned into a game of attrition, really: between playing the night before and the parade to the box / ample PK minutes for the Sabres, it was a matter of time before a breakdown sealed that one for the Lightning.

This afternoon/evening's tilt is a different story: the Lightning is off until Wednesday.  There's less of a need to moderate the attack so something is left in the tank for the next foray.

And who the hell decided on this start time?  5PM?  On a football Sunday?  I could see this in January or February and latter in the season, but late October?  Nope... Seems like a bad idea.  That's my opinion though.

As you already know (unless plans change somehow), Anders Lindback gets the start between the pipes for the Lightning tonight.

The Cats are scraping away with one of the weaker power play units in the league - 27th in the NHL with just over 10% efficiency (rookie Aleksnder Barkov leads the team with 2 power play goals). Their penalty kill unit isn't much better - 20th in the NHL with a 79.4% effectiveness. If the Bolts get sloppy and parade to the ox, the chance for the Panthers to raise their power play numbers grows. And playing back-to-back games, the chance for sloppy or careless play is out there for the Lightning.

I've seen nothing on this, so forgive the lack of facts, but the potential is there that the Lightning goes back to the standard 12/6 roster split tonight (with Andrej Sustr back in the lineup). There's also the potential that Tampa Bay once again goes 11/7. Defenseman Victor Hedman, after all, was playing with foot issues on Saturday and extra man is insurance. Playing hurt and back-to-back? That is all the more reason for insurance today.

Other Game Coverage:

Of the 13 traditional Eastern Conference opponents who the Tampa Bay Lightning have faced regularly in the past, who do you consider the biggest, most hated rival?

Boston Bruins44
Buffalo Sabres0
Carolina Hurricanes3
Florida Panthers32
Montreal Canadiens3
New York Islanders0
New York Rangers0
New Jersey Devils0
Ottawa Senators1
Philadelphia Flyers65
Pittsburgh Penguins1
Toronto Maple Leafs3
Washington Capitals39