Tampa Bay Lightning at Anaheim Ducks preview: California road trip kicks off
Lightning start a three-game California road trip with the Ducks and Disney Land!
Tampa Bay Lightning at Anaheim Ducks: Game #40
Time: 8:00 pm Eastern Time
Location: Honda Center, Anaheim, CA, USA
Broadcast/Streaming: Fox Sports Sun, 970 WFLA, Lightning Power Play Radio on iHeart Radio App
Opponent SBNation Site: Anaheim Calling
The Lightning have won five straight and have collected points in 14 games in a row. Going back to 11/15 against the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Lightning are 18-2-1. During this stretch, the Lightning have played some of the best hockey we’ve seen from this core group. That’s despite having key contributors Andrei Vasilevskiy and Anton Stralman missing time due to injury.
Nikita Kucherov continues to roll for the Lightning. It’s no coincidence that the Lightning’s 18-2-1 run has been coupled with an extraordinary offensive output from the best winger in the NHL. In the past 21 games, Kucherov has scored 11 goals and 34 assists for 45 points. He has failed to score in just one game and is currently on a 10 game scoring streak. In these 21 games, he has scored multiple points in 14 games and three or more points in seven games including setting a career high with five points in a game against the Edmonton Oilers.
On the other side, the Ducks have a 19-15-6 record on the year and are currently 4th in the Pacific Division. Going back to 11/21, the Ducks started a strong run with a 3-1 win in Tampa over the Lightning going 9-1-0. However since then, their scoring has dried up and they have lost five in a row. In the first four games of their scoring streak, they averaged a goal a game, getting shut out once. Their previous game on 12/29 against the Arizona Coyotes saw them lose 5-4 in overtime.
The Ducks have struggled to score this season. Their leading scorer is Ryan Getzlaf with 29 points in 34 games followed by Adam Henrique with 22 points in 40 games. They only have three players that have reached 10 goals in Pontus Aberg and Ondrej Kase with 11 each and Jakob Silfverberg with 10. By contrast, the Lightning have four players with 30+ points and six players that have reached double digit goals.
The saving grace so far this season for the Ducks has been the incredible play of John Gibson. He is sporting a .924 SV% and a 21.61 GSAA at all strengths according to Corsica Hockey’s definition of GSAA. His GSAA is by far the best in the NHL ahead of 2nd place Jaroslav Halak of the Boston Bruins with an 11.54 GSAA. He shows just as well at 5v5 with a 15.39 GSAA.
Assuming Gibson is the starter tonight, this may be one of the Lightning’s biggest goalie challenges they’ve faced this season. Gibson has been fantastic and the Ducks play good defense. One of the bright spots is that their special teams has been mediocre to bad. The Ducks power play is 25th in the league with a 14.9% success rate. Their penalty kill ranks 15th with a 79.6% success rate, but they’ve also been shorthanded the most times in the league and are tied for the 7th most goals against in the league.
The Lightning also seem to be committed to continuing the rotation on the blue line with Erik Cernak remaining with the team after Stralman’s return from injury. Since Stralman’s return against the Winnipeg Jets, the rotation has gone Cernak, Braydon Coburn, Mikhail Sergachev, Dan Girardi, Cernak, Coburn. So assuming the rotation continues in order, it will be Sergachev’s turn to sit out.
Also of note, is that former Lightning defenseman Jake Dotchin was waived by the Ducks on Friday and cleared waivers, but as of writing has not been re-assigned to the AHL. Another former Lightning defenseman Andrej Sustr is also not currently with Anaheim and is playing with their AHL team, the San Diego Gulls.
Tampa Bay Lightning
Tyler Johnson - Brayden Point - Nikita Kucherov
Ondrej Palat - Steven Stamkos - Yanni Gourde
Alex Killorn - Anthony Cirelli - Mathieu Joseph
Adam Erne - Cedric Paquette - Ryan Callahan
Victor Hedman - Anton Stralman
Ryan McDonagh - Erik Cernak
Braydon Coburn - Dan Girardi
Likely Scratches: Mikhail Sergachev, Danick Martel, Slater Koekkoek (AHL Conditioning Stint), J.T Miller (Injury Reserve)
Pontus Aberg - Ryan Getzlaf - Ondrej Kase
Nick Ritchie - Adam Henrique - Daniel Sprong
Andrew Cogliano - Ryan Kesler - Jakob Silfverberg
Kiefer Sherwood - Carter Rowney - Ben Streen
Hampus Lindholm - Brandon Montour
Jacob Larsson - Josh Manson
Josh Mahura - Andy Welinski