Royal homestand finale; Tampa Bay Lightning versus Los Angeles Kings preview

WHERE: Tampa Bay Times Forum, Tampa, Florida
WHEN: 7:30 PM EST | | TICKETS: Check Availability
MEDIA: Versus NBC Sports Net (cable), 970 WFLA (radio)
OPPONENT COVERAGE: Jewels from the Crown, The Royal Half

The Bolts face our old adversary, coach Darryl Sutter, with the LA Kings tonight at Times Palace. The Kings also have former Bolt Simon Gagne on their roster... Well,under contract but on injured reserve. Gagne signed with LA last summer, but has suffered another concussion and has been out since December 28th.

The Kings are a bit of an enigma - contending in the Pacific Division, but the team has the league's worst goals-for per game average (2.09), just one-hundredth of a percentage point better than the goals-allowed per game average (2.08). It's not like the Kings aren't shooting the puck (they average nearly 31 shots a night), but the bounces just haven't been going their way.

Not like it matters much. Los Angeles has done what it can to get points - they have a 25-18-10 record and are seeded 7th in the west. They trail the Sharks in the Pacific Division by four points, making them a force to be reckoned with, even if the offensive production from the likes of Mike Richards, Anze Kopitar and the rest of the royal monarchy leaves something to be desired.

‘Course, goaltending also works in LA's favor: Jonathan Quick is all kinds of good, being among league leaders in GAA (1.91), save percentage (.934) and shutouts (6). That's part of the reason his backup, Jonathan Bernier, has been listed by many as a possible trade target goalie to build around in places like, well, Tampa Bay.

Tampa Bay started the morning, after announcing the recall of Evan Oberg from the Norfolk Admirals, with nine defensemen on the roster. Oberg's recall, in most cases since he joined the organization in December 2011, has been done for insurance purposes - he was serving as the seventh or eighth defenseman at a given time and was simply participating in team skates while watching games from the press box. He's played in all of one NHL game this season with the Lightning.

With Marc-Andre Bergeron cleared to play, with Victor Hedman back in the lineup and making a difference, with Matt Gilroy, Bruno Gervais and Brendan Mikkelson earning their minutes, with veterans'' d-men Eric Brewer, Pavel Kubina and Brett Clark setting the standard to be met and exceeded... Well, why do you make an insurance defensive call-up before tonight's contest with the Los Angeles Kings?

Speculation is that Matt Gilroy could be no-go for tonight, while Marc-Andre Bergeron and forward Adam Hall will make their returns to the lineup for the Lightning.

Dwayne Roloson was named starter of this game on Monday. You can look at LA's anemic offense as possibly the reason why Dwayne gets back in net and Mathieu Garon gets to rest. But as we said above, it's not like LA isn't taking shots at goal. Garon does need a break, and the Bolts do have some formidable games on the road in the immediate future (against the Rangers, Sabres and Penguins, respectively) where they need the now-number-one ready to go in net.

Other Previews

Tampa Bay Lightning official team preview

Lightning Hockey Blog

Full game coverage on SB Nation


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