Blues (23-20-7) at Lightning (32-16-5) 3:00pm
The Lightning and the Blues square off for the only time this season on Super Bowl Sunday at 3:00. These teams are in very different positions in their respective conferences, and that could very well affect the tone of this game.
The Lightning are still (barely) sitting on top of their division, second in the conference, and just four points back from the East-leading Philadelphia Flyers. They just had a 6-game win streak snapped and sit 12 points above the playoff cutoff. The Blues, on the other hand, are in nearly the exact opposite position. They are currently tied with the Columbus Blue Jackets for last in the Central Division. They are sitting six points out of the playoffs.
This sets up a similar scenario to Friday night’s game against the Capitals: the satisfied Bolts up against a desperate team. The consequences are even more dire for the Blues, as the Capitals were merely fighting for the division. The Blues will be fighting to even be in the playoff picture.
It hasn’t been coming easy to the Blues, who have been on a bit of a slide at 3-6-1 in their last 10 games. The Lightning are a cool 7-3-0, including their six-game win streak.
For the Lightning, role players are beginning to heat up a little bit. Ryan Malone is still out, but Teddy Purcell had a goal against the Capitals Friday night, and he is currently riding a three-game goal streak. He is also riding a four-game point streak, which includes four goals and nine points. Not bad for a guy who went undrafted. The Bolts also called up Marc Andre Bergeron, who has been playing in Norfolk since he was acquired. He is set to make his Lightning debut on Sunday.
For the Blues, their offense is created through grit work. They dig pucks out of the corners, crash the net, and they have just enough skill from guys like David Backes, T.J. Oshie, and Patrik Berglund to convert that hard work into goals. If the Lightning play the way they did on Friday, this could pose a problem for them. This is the exact style of play the Capitals used to defeat the Lightning, so the Bolts have to learn quickly from those mistakes and be sure not to get complacent.
It is looking like Tampa Bay won’t have to worry about facing Jaroslav Halak, who is listed as day-to-day with an upper body injury. Ben Bishop has been recalled from the AHL’s Peoria Rivermen to back up Ty Conklin as Halak recovers. Dwayne Roloson will also get the day off as Dan Ellis will suit up between the pipes for the Lightning.
Lightning better come ready to work, as they will have to match the effort of one of the most lunch-pale teams in the league. Then we all get Super Bowl pizza, chips, and beer.