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Rangers at Lightning: It’s time to go on a winning streak

Feb 7, 2024; New York, New York, USA; Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Nikita Kucherov (86) collides with New York Rangers defenseman Jacob Trouba (8) in the third period at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

Game #66 – New York Rangers at Tampa Bay Lightning
Time: 7:00 PM EST
Location: Amalie Arena
Broadcast/Streaming: BSSUN, MSG, ESPN+, Hulu

Opponent’s Site: Blueshirt Banter


With minimal action on the ice over the last two weeks, the Tampa Bay Lightning needed a little help to hold onto their wild card spot. They got that help. The Islanders lost their last game, the Capitals their last two, and the Red Wings are on a six-game losing streak. All of that means the Bolts are still in the playoff mix as the teams around them squandered their games in hand.

Now it’s up to the Lightning to take those gifts and exploit them by going on a little winning streak to separate themselves in the standings. It won’t be easy, though. Starting with the Rangers (a possible first round preview!) they have eight of their next games against teams that are currently fighting for a playoff spot. Oh, and a late-season west coast trip is mixed in there as well.

If they can put a little bit of a winning streak together over the next two weeks or so, not only would it help them in the standings, it will show that they can be competitive against good teams, including teams they may face off against in the postseason. Getting hot now could propel them into the playoffs with a lot of confidence.

It does look like they’ll start their final stretch of the season with a relatively healthy roster. With the exception of Mikhail Sergachev, it sounds like most of the players will be ready to go. Following practice Coach Cooper told reporters that Erik Cernak “should be ready” to play and that Tanner Jeannot would be a game-time decision. Jeannot was on the ice for the optional skate this morning and hopefully he will be ready to go on the fourth line.

The new additions, Matt Dumba and Anthony Duclair, also had a chance to practice a bit with their new teams and acclimate into the system. It appears Duclair will be paired up with Steven Stamkos and Anthony Cirelli to give that line a little scoring punch. With Cernak at practice, Dumba was on the third-pairing with Haydn Fleury, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see Coach Cooper keep the ice times of all three pairings fairly close.

On the other side of the ice, the Rangers roll into town playing fairly well as they start to put a little distance between themselves and Carolina in the Metro Division. Their lead is up to six points and that’s a fairly comfortable cushion, especially since the two teams don’t face each other the rest of the way this season.

New York didn’t make any huge splashes at the trade deadline this season, choosing to fill in depth roles with the addition of Alex Wennberg and Jack Roslovic. They will be without two of their big hitters tonight as rookie Matt Rempe is serving a four-game suspension and Jacob Trouba is injured. They still have plenty of firepower on offense as Artemi Panarin has 12 points (3 goals, 9 assists) in his last 9 games. Vincent Trocheck (5 goals), Alexis Lafreniere (4 goals), and Chris Kreider (4 goals) have been playing well over that stretch as well.

Igor Shesterkin is up to his old tricks in net as he’s 5-1-1 over his last 7 starts with a .961 SV% and 1.28 GA. In four career regular-season starts at Amalie Arena he is 3-0-1 with a .955 SV% and 1.44 GA, so he’s due for a bad game against the Bolts right?

The Lightning were lethargic in their first game back from a four-game break last week and it ended with the Flames trouncing them. They can’t afford to come out flat again tonight. The days may be getting longer, but the season is getting shorter. They have used up pretty much all of the runway available to them and need to start piling up wins. It starts tonight with the Rangers.

Stats Match-up

Game #66Tampa Bay LightningNew York Rangers
Overall Record34-25-643-18-4
Home Record20-9-423-8-0
Road Record14-16-220-10-4
Goals For221213
Goals Against219170
Power Play29.2%25.1%
Penalty Kill80.8%83.8%
Last 10 Games4-5-17-2-1
Stats via NHL and Natural Stat Trick


Tampa Bay Lightning Projected Lines

Brandon Hagel – Brayden Point – Nikita Kucherov
Steven Stamkos – Anthony Cirelli – Anthony Duclair
Mikey Eyssimont – Nick Paul – Conor Sheary

Tyler Motte – Luke Glendening – Tanner Jeannot

Victor Hedman – Darren Raddysh
Nick Perbix – Erik Cernak
Haydn Fleury – Matt Dumba

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Jonas Johansson

New York Rangers Projected Lines

Chris Kreider – Mika Zibanejad – Jack Roslovic

Artemi Panarin – Vincent Trocheck – Alexis Lafreniere

Will Cuylle – Alex Wennberg – Kaapo Kakko

Jimmy Vesey – Barclay Goodrow – Jonny Brodzinski

Ryan Lindgren – Adam Fox

K’Andre Miller – Braden Schneider

Zac Jones – Erik Gustafsson


Igor Shesterkin

Jonathan Quick

The Playoff Race

Atlantic DivisionGames PlayedRecordPointsGames Remaining
Florida Panthers6645-17-49416
Boston Bruins6738-14-159115
Toronto Maple Leafs6437-19-88218
Wild CardGames PlayedRecordPointsGames Remaining
New York Islanders6429-21-147218
Detroit Red Wings6533-26-67217
Top 3 teams in the Atlantic make the playoffs, top two wild card teams also make the playoffs
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