Okay, I think enough time has passed since Tuesday night’s atrocious 5-2 loss to the Los Angeles Kings at the Staples Center. I think I have mastered my emotions enough to write a new post concerning the Bolts and tonight’s late game against the San Jose Sharks.
I don’t think I have to state just how important this game is for the Lightning, as it will surely test the team we hope they are.
After two straight losses (Tampa Bay dropped a game to the Phoenix Coyotes on Nov. 16), the Lightning (14-7-0, 28 points) needs to come out strong, fast and in-sync early against the Sharks, and firmly establish a stake in the game ahead.
Stop the bleeding now with a win, before things get even more out of hand.
Because it doesn’t get any easier after tonight: Tampa Bay is facing back-to-back games – tonight against the Sharks, and then tomorrow night against the Anaheim Ducks (who still lead the NHL in points).
The Ducks are hosting Tampa Bay and just salivating for some redemption after last week’s impressive 5-1 win by the Bolts at the Tampa Bay Times Forum on Nov. 14.
As for San Jose, the Sharks are second in the Pacific Division (two points back from Anaheim), fifth in the Western Conference, and fifth in the league.
Don’t expect this team to make allowances for roster struggles, the Bolts will have to enter the SAP Center ready for a battle.
Lightning head coach Jon Cooper is tinkering with the lines going into the Sharks game, in the hopes of generating some much needed offense.
Cooper had this to say about the lines yesterday.
Just trying some different things, getting some different looks. We’ll see about (Thursday).”
This is how the lines looked during yesterday’s practice: Teddy Purcell-Valtteri Filppula-Marty St. Louis, Ryan Malone-Alex Killorn-J.T. Brown, Ondrej Palat-Tyler Johnson-Richard Panik, and Pierre-Cedric Labrie-Nate Thompson-B.J. Crombeen, with Brett Connolly taking turns at wing.
Hopefully some shifting of the pawns will give the Lightning (who dropped to second in the Atlantic Division, and the Eastern Conference, behind the Boston Bruins) the spark needed to get back at the top of the standings.