Lightning vs. Sharks: Struggling offense vs. struggling defense
The Sharks come to town for the first of two contests these top teams will play this year
Sharks at Bolts: Game 15
Time: 7:00 pm Eastern Time
Location: Amalie Arena
Broadcast/Streaming: SUN, CSN-CA
Opponent SBNation Site: Fear The Fin
Two of the top teams in hockey face off this Saturday when the San Jose Sharks travel to Tampa Bay to take on the Lightning. San Jose is currently third in the Pacific division. With Martin Jones in goal and a prolific blue line, the Sharks are winning with defense. They have a top-10 unit in goal prevention and a top-five penalty kill.
They are in the midst of a six-game road trip, winning the first two contests before this game in Tampa Bay. In the first two games, Jones allowed a total of two goals. San Jose as a team hasn't allowed a power play goal since the fifth game of the season back in mid-October. The defense has kept afloat a team that is struggling on the offensive end.
Tampa Bay has been nearly the opposite thus far. The Lightning, in the early going of the 2016-17 NHL season, are one of the better offensive clubs. They rank fifth in the league with a 3.1 goals per game average. They also have the third-best power play, converting more than 26 percent of their opportunities. This contest between the Lightning and Sharks will be strength against strength when TB has the puck.
The surprise for Tampa Bay this year has been on defense, where the team is struggling more than it's used to. Ben Bishop is off to a shaky start, opening the door for Andrei Vasilevskiy to siphon off starts. Bishop is expected to be in net for this one. Though the team is an excellent 5-1-1 at home and Bishop himself has a 3-1 record, his peripheral stats are very poor. At home, he has a 3.01 goals-against average and .897 save percentage. His career splits put those figures to shame. Fortunately, San Jose is a good offense to face when struggling.
Jonathan Drouin is likely out for this game with a head injury. He has missed four straight games and was pushed off the top two lines before that. His healthy return will be a nice boon to the Lightning attack, but they will go without him for at least one more game.
Tampa Bay Lightning
Vladislav Namestnikov - Steven Stamkos - Nikita Kucherov
Ondrej Palat - Tyler Johnson - Brayden Point
Alex Killorn - Valtteri Filppula - Ryan Callahan
Brian Boyle - Cedric Paquette - J.T. Brown
Victor Hedman - Anton Stralman
Jason Garrison - Andrej Sustr
Braydon Coburn - Slater Koekkoek
San Jose Sharks
Joe Pavelski - Joe Thornton - Joel Ward
Joonas Donskoi - Logan Couture - Kevin Labanc
Patrik Marleau - Tomas Hertl - Mikkel Boedker
Melker Karlsson - Chris Tierney - Tommy Wingels
Marc-Edouard Vlasic - Justin Braun
Paul Martin - Brent Burns
Brenden Dillon - David Schlemko