Rested versus ready; Tampa Bay Lightning versus Calgary Flames preview
Two teams near the top of the NHL, two statuses that could be seen as an asset or a hindrance.
Where: Amalie Arena, Tampa, Florida
When: 7:30 PM EST | Tickets: Check availability
Media: Sun Sports (cable) | 970 AM WFLA (radio) | Twitter Live Stream
Opponent Coverage: Matchsticks and Gasoline, Flames Nation, Calgarypuck
As was noted yesterday, tonight is a bigger game than the national media will give it credit. The Flames have overcome on their eastern sojourn and the Bolts are rested after winning three straight.
Is it a case of ready-versus-rusty or perhaps rested-versus-worn? Maybe all that narrative crap doesn't play into this at all? These are two teams playing their second game in just over two weeks, where the last affair was an ugly number that required overtime for the Lightning to eke out a victory. That bad taste (and grudges picked up on October 21st) could still be fresh for Calgary... And perhaps for Tampa Bay as well.
The Flames topped Montreal in convincing fashion to start out their trek in the East, and outlasted Washington on Tuesday. Sound familiar? It should, because Tampa Bay pulled off the same acts on October 13th and November 1st - a lop-sided victory and an outlasting.
While Alex Killorn and Brett Connolly should remain out for the Lightning (Killorn with an upper body injury; he did participate in practice today but not line rushes), the Flames have their own injuries to deal with. Rookie Johnny Gaudreau was (is?) battling the flu and was a game time decision on Tuesday in Washington. Center Matt Stajan has gone on IR since the last meeting between the two clubs.
While the Flames have indeed been depleated at forward beyond a day-to-day status and an injured center, it's on defense where they've been impressive. A strong blue line corps (anchored by team captain Mark Giordanoo and others) have stepped up and helped limit shots.
Ben Bishop will get the start in net for the Bolts while Jonas Hiller gets the nod for the Flames. While Bishop has regressed this season from his Vezina-nomination worthy effort from last season (he is 7-1-1 in 9 games (8 starts) with a .912 save percentage and 2.45 GAA in x games), Hller has been lights-out phenomenal for Calgary and should be credited with team success as much as the defense. Hiller's stats line is an impressive 6-2-1, boasting 1.96 goals-against average, a .935 save percentage along with one shutout on the season.
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