Home Finale: Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Florida Panthers preview

WHERE: St. Pete Times Forum, Tampa, Florida
MEDIA: CW44 (local), 620 WDAE (radio)

It's a red carpet affair at Times Palace tonight as the Lightning conclude their 41 game home schedule with this evening's matchup with the Florida Panthers.

Lightning players will walk through the West Plaza outside the St. Pete Times Forum in a meet-and-greet with fans this afternoon. Autographs will be signed, pictures will be taken... It's the conclusion of Fan Appreciation week. There will be plenty of other events in the arena tied to this home finale.

And of cours, hockey will be played. We'll talk game below the jump.

9th and 29th.

A twenty place different between the Lightning and the Panthers on the power play.  While Adam Oates and Rick Tocchet should be applauded for the Lightning's improvement on the power play, a question still remains.

Just who the hell thought the Bolts should have only one unit on the power play?  The team's unit effort improved vastly after the team started using two power play units in January (first instance of this was noted in the 7-4 win over the Washington Capitals, Rick Tocchet made a comment about the changes).  Fresh bodies were cycled in, goals were scored...

You'd think a coaching staff would have already known to employ two units and not just one.  Oh well.  Too late now.

On the penalty kill, it's a different story for both teams.  The Lightning and Panthers are 22nd and 23rd in the league, respectively, with their penalty kill units.  Five-Tenths of a percentage point separate them in the standings (79.9 to 79.4).  The Lightning's PK unit has not improved much over the season, wavering a little up-and-down in the standings but mostly remaining in the middle of the pack.  Some could cite goaltending as the ultimate reason the Lightning have struggled, but with the repeated failing to clear the Bolts own zone ultimately served up too many opportunities.

"Seen Cinquenta?"

Steven Stamkos has 48 goals on the season with two games remaining. The Pittsburgh Penguins Sidney Crosby has 49 and Capitals wing Alexander Ovechkin has 50.

Gamethread programming Litter Box and Raw Charge will be holding a combined "Road Trip"-style open thread for this evening's Panthers-Lightning game. In essence, the first and third periods (and any overtime) will be hosted at RC while the second period will be at the Litter Box. Tomorrow we'll reverse it. It's a great way to get to know our cross-state pals who will tell you from experience that the playoffs are overrated.

2010 NHL Entry Draft Prospect

Continuing... (by way of The Scouting Report's mid-term rankings)

Tyler Seguin (C)

...Seguin has really come out from the shadows to be a top contender for the number one pick in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. .... Seguin is tremendously talented and arguably the most dangerous player in the offensive zone in this draft. He’s a very good skater and his hands, shot and creativity are all tools that will help him put up a lot of points at the NHL level. One concern for Seguin is his lack of commitment to the defensive zone, and that will be something that has to be addressed when he moves on to the next level.

Other Previews

Tampa Bay Lightning official team preview