Tampa Bay Lightning at St. Louis Blues Preview and Game Day Thread
The Lightning mark the midpoint of the season by starting a five-game road trip.
Tampa Bay Lightning at St. Louis Blues: GAME #41
Time: 8:00 pm Eastern Time
Location: Enterprise Center
Broadcast/Streaming: BSSUN, BSMW, ESPN+, HULU
Opponent Site: St. Louis Blues
DraftKings NHL Odds: Lightning -1.5 O/U 6.5
In an 82-game season it’s hard to say any game is more important than any other, nor is any stretch of games more important. After all, a win in October is worth the same amount of points as a win in April. That being said, this upcoming five-game road trip for the Tampa Bay Lightning does seem to have a certain extra weight to it. After Thursday’s win against the Vancouver Canucks at home, Coach Jon Cooper said that the goal for this road trip is the same as any other - to come home with more points than games played.
So, with five games on the trip the Lightning are looking to pull in at least 6 points. A 3-2 road trip would be nice considering four of the five teams are among the top 10 in the Western Conference and have winning records. If this was a home stand, where the Lightning have the league’s second best record at 17-4-2, and a nine-game winning streak, that wouldn’t seem like a difficult task. However, the road has been a different story where the Bolts are currently nursing a 9-9 record and have lost 4 of their last 5 games with less than stellar outings in their last two. This trip will be a real test to see how the Lightning can fare outside of their friendly confines against top competition.
Offensively, they are scoring more than a goal less on the road than at home (2.94 vs. 4.09) while allowing more (3.33 vs. 2.64). In fact pretty much all of their numbers are down on the road especially in the 5v5 possession stats where they are at 2.62 xGF/60 on the road vs. 3.3 xGF/60 at Amalie Arena. They generate fewer shots and fewer high-danger chances while away from friendly ice as well.
Oddly enough, goaltending, at least Andrei Vasilevskiy, has been about the same on the road, posting a .919 SV% and 2.53 GAA at home and a .914 SV% and 2.51 GAA average on the road.
A solution to their average road play would be to get more scoring from their lower lines as teams would then have to have to direct their defensive energies away from the Brayden Point line. It would also help if they stayed out of the penalty box, something that was a huge distraction in their road losses to Winnipeg and Minnesota.
St. Louis will be an interesting test for them to kick off this road trip. The Blues have battled injuries and poor play for most of the season, but are just two points out of the second wild card spot in the Western Conference. They have been good on the road (13-10-1) but are a game below .500 at home (8-9-2). January has seen them win games against Toronto and Minnesota, but also a loss to Montreal. Inconsistency has been a problem in a season that boosts an seven-game winning streak as well as an eight-game losing streak.
The good news for Blues fans is that it appears Nick Leddy will return to the line-up tonight after missing four games with an upper-body injury. They are, however, still without the services of Vladimir Tarasenko and Robert Bortuzzo (who was just placed on Injured Reserve a few days ago).
Goaltending has been an issues as both Jordan Binnington and Thomas Greiss have struggled in net with both sporting GAAs above 3.00. Binnington in particular has had a rough year as his save percentage is at an ugly .892 through 32 appearances.
Tonight should be a game where the Lightning offense has a chance to put some pucks in the net on the road. As long as they take care of the puck and stay out of the box, they should have a chance to start things off on the right foot.
Tampa Bay Lightning at St. Louis Blues Comparison
|Game #41||Tampa Bay Lightning||St. Louis Blues|
Tampa Bay Lightning Potential Lines
Brandon Hagel - Brayden Point - Nikita Kucherov
Anthony Cirelli - Steven Stamkos - Alex Killorn
Ross Colton - Nick Paul - Patrick Maroon
Vlad Namestnikov - Pierre-Edouard Bellemare - Corey Perry
Victor Hedman - Zach Bogosian
Ian Cole - Erik Cernak
Mikhail Sergachev - Nick Perbix
St. Louis Blues Potential Lines
Pavel Buchnevich - Robert Thomas - Jordan Kyrou
Brandon Saad - Brayden Schenn - Ivan Barbashev
Jake Neighbours - Noel Acciari - Josh Leivo
Alexi Toropchenko - Nikita Alexandrov - Tyler Pitlick
Niko Mikkola - Colton Parayako
Nick Leddy - Justin Faulk
Tyler Tucker - Calle Rosen