Ringing in the new year! Rangers at Lightning preview

WHERE: St. Pete Times Forum, Tampa, Florida
MEDIA: Sun Sports (cable), 620 WDAE (radio)

Happy new year to Raw Charge readers everywhere.

The Lightning begin 2011 tonight at Times Palace with the end of their current homestand -- taking on the Rangers in another high-profile Eastern Conference showdown. Oh, sure, it's not the high-profile affair that may be washed out in Pittsburgh, but it's a big match-up none-the-less. The Bolts are 2nd in the conference (if you hadn't noticed) right now with 49 points, while the Rags are 6th with 46 points.

Despite the Lightning having beaten the Rangers twice this season, it's a dangerous game... You have to think the Rags want to make up for their shortcoming at home before Christmas (falling to the Lightning in the shootout on December 23rd).

It's got the makings of an intense affair, and a great way to ring in the new year.

It's been speculated since yesterday that Cedrick Desjardins will be getting another start in crease tonight. Cedrick made his NHL debut on December 30th in the thrilling 4-1 victory against the Canadiens. Desjardins made 27 saves on the night and was put under the microscope for the most part. Everything being scrutinized and compared to Dan Ellis and Mike Smith.

The kid did all right and made the stops he had to. The only goal he allowed was a fluke redirect with two men crashing into him in the crease. No one is going to stop that goal.

Of course, Steven Stamkos took the attention away from Desjardins debut. I'm not going to recap events, but I am going to link to what I see as a foot-in-mouth defense by Stamkos.

Randy Jones will also be out tonight for the Bolts.

The Lightning and the Rangers are both pretty competitive on the Penalty Kill -- ranking 8th ( 84.7) and 11th (82.4 ) respectively. It's on the power play that the two squads diverge. Maybe you can specifically point to Steven Stamkos as the difference make? Regardless, the Bolts are 3rd in the NHL (tied with the San Jose Sharks) with a 23.5% conversion percentage. The Rangers, on the other hand, are 18th in the NHL with a 17.3% conversion rate.

One final note: The Bolt went 8-3-2 in December. That's the best December showing by the Bolts in franchise history. Quite an accomplishment considering the hysteria over goaltending early in the month.

Other Previews

Tampa Bay Lightning official team preview

Bolts 2 Cup

Full game coverage on SB Nation

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