Pittsburgh Penguins at Tampa Bay Lightning preview: Two struggling teams look to right the ship
The annual slump has arrived in full force.
Pittsburgh Penguins at Tampa Bay Lightning: GAME 55
Time: 7:000 pm Eastern Time
Location: Amalie Arena
Broadcast/Streaming: NHLN, SUN, ATTSN-PT
Opponent SBNation Site: Pensburgh
It’s only been five games since these two teams last met, but so many things have changed in that span. The Penguins might have stomped all over the Lightning in that one, but they’re on a three-game losing streak and have lost four of six games since their bye week ended.
The Bolts, meanwhile, have also hit a bit of a skid since returning from their break. They’ve lost three of five games, although their last four games have all been one-goal affairs. The team is struggling to find the back of the net. Tampa has been averaging over four goals a game all season, but they’ve only scored five times in their last four games. In two of those, they couldn’t score in regulation: a 1-0 shootout win and being shutout against St. Louis.
The rotation of the blueline continues. Since returning from the bye week, we saw Jon Cooper employ the following rotation of healthy scratches: Braydon Coburn, Anton Stralman, Mikhail Sergachev, Dan Girardi, and Erik Cernak. Jon Cooper looks to be shaking things up, though, because Stralman was the odd-man out at morning skate.
Pittsburgh has been hit a bit hard with the injury bug. Matt Murray missed their last game, forcing Casey DeSmith back into the starting job. Evgeni Malkin fought Steven Stamkos and hasn’t played a game since. Both Murray and Malkin were at practice yesterday, but won’t play tonight:
Malkin ruled himself out for Saturday against Tampa Bay, but said there's a chance he could play Monday in Philadelphia. When asked if he could play on this trip, Murray said "Yeah, for sure. I think so. I wouldn’t have skated today if I didn’t feel good. Progressing well." -MC— Pens Inside Scoop (@PensInsideScoop) February 8, 2019
The Lightning’s special teams might be near the top of the league, but the Penguins are solid in that regard as well. That’s pretty impressive considering their blueline is fairly thin. While the Penguins are extremely injured, the Bolts are very healthy (knock on wood). And with Murray out, they have a huge opportunity tonight to get out of this slump.
Tampa Bay Lightning
Ondrej Palat - Steven Stamkos - Nikita Kucherov
Yanni Gourde - Brayden Point - Tyler Johnson
Alex Killorn - Anthony Cirelli - J.T. Miller
Adam Erne - Cedric Paquette - Mathieu Joseph
Scratched: Ryan Callahan, Danick Martel
Victor Hedman - Dan Girardi
Ryan McDonagh - Erik Cernak
Braydon Coburn - Mikhail Sergachev
Scratched: Anton Stralman
Jake Guentzel - Sidney Crosby - Nick Bjugstad
Bryan Rust - Matt Cullen - Phil Kessel
Dominik Simon - Jared McCann - Patric Hornqvist
Tanner Pearson - Teddy Blueger - Garrett Wilson
Injured: Evgeni Malkin, Zach Aston-Reese
Marcus Pettersson - Kris Letang
Brian Dumolin - Jack Johnson
Olli Maatta - Juuso Riikola
Scratched: Chad Ruhwedel
Injured: Justin Schultz
Injured: Matt Murray