Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Montreal Canadiens: Jonathan Drouin’s return to Tampa

Will the crowd “boo” or “Druuu” the former Bolt?

Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Montreal Canadiens: GAME #36

Time: 7:30 Eastern Time

Location: Amalie Arena

Broadcast / Streaming: SUN, RDS, TSN2

Opponent SBNation Site: Habs Eyes On The Prize


The long-awaited return of Jonathan Drouin is here. It has been a well-documented saga: Drouin was cut from the 2013-14 Opening Night roster, then he was given bottom-line minutes during the run to the Stanley Cup Final in June 2015, and then he was demoted to the AHL and we learned of his trade request. He was called back up and went on the 2016 playoff run that fell one fluky goal short to the eventual Stanley Cup Champion Penguins, and this past offseason he was finally dealt for blue-chip prospect Mikhail Sergachev.

I remember getting the notification on my phone about the trade, and I was in utter shock. Not only was I set off by the fact that he was dealt to a division rival, but I knew that the return would be for an unproved, albeit highly regarded, defenseman — Sergachev. But man, I should stop worrying about the majority of Yzerman’s decision-making (for the rest, see various contracts of some Lightning players), but let’s hold off on that topic for another day and focus on tonight’s matchup.

The Bolts and Canadiens meet tonight for the first of four matchups between the two Atlantic Division rivals. They will meet again in Montreal on January 4th. With Drouin returning to Amalie tonight, it will be interesting to see the fans’ reactions. I will be booing, but it remains to be seen if a video montage and tribute will be played on the JumboTron for the skilled forward.

The Canadiens come to town having just played the Hurricanes last night. They have middled around the .500 mark for quite some time this year, and quite honestly, that’s no surprise. Just look at their roster—not one to contend, in my humble opinion.

The Lightning, on the other hand, went into the Christmas Break sporting a 9-1-0 record in their last ten outings—the one loss coming in a last-minute stunner in Vegas. Hopefully, they dust off their skates, enjoyed their break, and come out flying in what should be a spirited, feisty game tonight against a huge rival.

Comparison Chart:

loserpoints’ note:

Consecutive dominant performances by the Lightning against Ottawa and Minnesota before the holidays have them among the best teams in the league in 5v5 shot share and expected goal share. While they scored more goals during their winning streak at the beginning of the season, their recent form is much more indicative of a team that can continue to win long term. For me, this has been their best stretch of play this year.

The Habs are better than their record but maybe not by as much as it seemed early in the season. They are falling back to the middle of the league in shot share and expected goal share. Their special teams are average. And most concerning, they can no longer count on elite goaltending. Carey Price has struggled with injuries this year but even when healthy, he hasn’t looked himself.

Tampa Bay Lightning:

Forward Lines:

Vladislav Namestnikov  — Steven Stamkos — Nikita Kucherov

Ondrej Palat — Brayden Point — Tyler Johnson

Alex Killorn — Yanni Gourde — Cory Conacher

Chris Kunitz — Cedric Paquette — J.T. Brown

Defense Pairings:

Victor Hedman — Jake Dotchin

Mikhail Sergachev — Anton Stralman

Braydon Coburn — Dan Girardi


Andrei Vasilevskiy

Peter Budaj

Lineup Notes:

Slater Koekkoek and Andrej Sustr continue to sit in the press box. I’d really love to see Koekkoek draw into the lineup again sometime soon.

Montreal Canadiens:

Forward Lines:

Max Pacioretty — Jonathan Drouin — Paul Byron

Alex Galchenyuk — Philip Danault — Andrew Shaw

Arturri Lehkonen — Tomas Plekanec — Brendan Gallagher

Nicolas Deslauriers — Byron Froese — Daniel Carr

Defense Pairings:

Karl Alzner — Jeff Petry

Jordie Benn — Jakub Jerabek

Joe Morrow — Brett Lernout


Carey Price

Antti Niemi