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

Forward Lines

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

Defensive Pairings

Victor Hedman - Anton Stralman

Jason Garrison - Andrej Sustr

Braydon Coburn - Slater Koekkoek


Ben Bishop

Andrei Vasilevskiy

San Jose Sharks

Forward Lines

Joe Pavelski - Joe Thornton - Joel Ward

Joonas Donskoi - Logan Couture - Kevin Labanc

Patrik Marleau - Tomas Hertl - Mikkel Boedker

Melker Karlsson - Chris Tierney - Tommy Wingels

Defensive Pairings

Marc-Edouard Vlasic - Justin Braun

Paul Martin - Brent Burns

Brenden Dillon - David Schlemko


Martin Jones

Aaron Dell

Line information will be updated after morning skate.