Tampa Bay Lightning at Florida Panthers Preview and Game Day Thread

We re-join the regular season, already in progress

Tampa Bay Lightning at Florida Panthers: GAME #49

Time: 7:00 pm Eastern Time

Location: FLA Live Arena

Broadcast/Streaming: BSSUN, BSFL, TVAS, ESPN+, Hulu

Opponent SBNation Site: Litterbox Cats

Preview:

Nothing like getting back into the regular season groove with a couple of back-to-back games including one against an instate rival. Fresh off of being booed for the All-Star Game, Andrei Vasilevskiy and Nikita Kucherov can get back to being booed by the Panthers’ fans for good ol’ regular season action.

The Bolts have had a nice stretch of off-days to heal up and prepare for the 30+ regular season games that constitute the rest of the regular season. They did end their first half with three strong games at home, a trait they would love to carry onto the road this month.

Based on the practice they had on Sunday it does appear everyone is healthy and ready to go for the home stretch. Steven Stamkos did see rotations on the top line with Brayden Point and Nikita Kucherov, a combination that we saw over the last few games as Coach Cooper looks to keep the 5v5 offense clicking.

Most importantly it looked like all of the regular defensemen were skating with their usual partners. Keeping the top-six healthy down the stretch will go a long way into solidifying the defensive play.

As for the Panthers, they have to figure out how to claw their way back into the playoff race while battling injuries in net and among their forwards. Alex Lyon has been their starting goaltender for the last few games, but it does look like Sergei Bobrovsky was back on the ice for their practice on Sunday. Young Spencer Knight should also be in the mix as well.

Up front they are still missing the services of Anthony Duclair and Patric Hornqvist, both of whom practiced in non-contact jerseys yesterday. Duclair was a full participant in the practice and seems closer to return than Hornqvist who skated on his own during the workout.

With the Panthers desperate for points (they are 11 points behind the Lightning for the third spot and 3 points behind the Penguins for the second wild card spot) the Bolts have to come out ready to play in the this game. If they take a period or two to get back into the swing of things, they will find themselves trailing in the game.

Comparison chart:

Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Florida Panthers comparison

Game #49Tampa Bay LightningFlorida Panthers
Overall Record32-15-124-22-6
Home Record20-4-113-7-3
Road Record12-11-011-15-3
Goals For175178
Goals Against141183
xGF164.52190.8
xGA153.17171.44
PP%26.7%23.5%
PK%80.9%74.7%

Tampa Bay Lightning Potential Lines

Forward Lines

Steven Stamkos - Brayden Point - Nikita Kucherov

Brandon Hagel - Anthony Cirelli- Alex Killorn

Ross Colton - Nick Paul - Patrick Maroon

Vlad Namestnikov - Pierre-Edouard Bellemare - Corey Perry

Defense Pairings

Victor Hedman - Zach Bogosian

Ian Cole- Erik Cernak

Mikhail Sergachev- Nick Perbix

Goaltenders

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Brian Elliott

Florida Panthers Potential Lines

Forward Lines

Anton Lundell - Aleksander Barkov - Sam Reinhart

Carter Verhaeghe - Sam Bennett - Matthew Tkachuk

Ryan Lomberg - Eetu Luostarinen - Nick Cousins

Chris Tierney - Eric Staal - Givani Smith

Defense Pairings

Gustav Forsling - Aaron Ekblad

Marc Staal - Brandon Montour

Josh Mahura - Radko Gudas

Goalies

Sergei Bobrovskiy ?

Spencer Knight ?

Alex Lyon ?