GAME DAY: Blackhawks at Lightning 3/9/11

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Blackhawks (37-24-6) at Lightning (37-21-8) at 7:30 p.m. on VERSUS

Riding a four game losing streak, the Lightning look to turn their fortune around against the red-hot Blackhawks, whose eight-game winning streak was snapped last night against Florida.  It will be the first of two meetings between the two.

Both teams are coming off of tough, close losses.  The Lightning lost 2-1 in a shootout against the Caps on Monday while the Blackhawks dropped a 3-2 decision against the Panthers last night.  They haven’t played each other since December of last season, a game that saw the Lightning take a shellacking from the future Cup champions 4-0.

The Lightning played a near perfect game on Monday, but some bad luck and couple bounces cost them in the 2-1 defeat.  They generated chances, but weren’t able to finish them.  That is something that has to change for the Blackhawks, a team that has suddenly rediscovered its confidence.

Steven Stamkos is still looking to come out of his slump.  The Lightning are a completely different team when he’s on his game, and now would be as good a time as any to start heating up for the playoffs. Hid lack of production is a major factor in this offensive drought they’ve been going through.  There is only so much grinders like Nate Thompson can do without the skilled guys pulling their end.

The goalie matchup will likely be Dwayne Roloson versus Corey Crawford.  Roloson has been playing some of the best hockey on the team lately, keeping the team in games they have no business being in.  That has been key while the Lightning have been struggling to score goals.  Crawford, likewise, has been playing very well for the Blackhawks.  He is beginning t give them confidence, and their defense feels much more comfortable in front of him than they did earlier in the season.

Much like the Detroit and Philadelphia games, this is another measuring stick for the Lightning.  They are going to have to track the progress of their development through games like this.  They aren’t always going to like the result, but if the Bolts play like they did on Monday and get just a little bit of luck, it should be a great game tonight.

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Tags: Chicago Blackhawks Corey Crawford Dwayne Roloson Steven Stamkos Tampa Bay Lightning

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