Throughout the course of this season, the Lightning has been plagued with injuries. Steven Stamkos, Ryan Malone, Tom Pyatt, Victor Hedman and Keith Aulie have all spent extended lengths of time on the bench due to a variety of injuries. While there are still a few of those players stuck on injured reserve, we are starting to get our guys back.
This is going to prove to be beneficial as we face off with the Hurricanes tonight. The Lightning has won five of the last six encounters between these two teams. Tonight’s game will be the second meeting between these two teams this season. In their first meeting this season, the Lightning shut out the Hurricanes on their home ice. Now, they bring the game to us.
The Lightning is coming off of what has proven to be one of the strongest all around games that they have played all season long. The Bolts were able to bring a strong offensive effort against the Shea Weber and the Nashville Predators on Thursday night at the Forum when they beat the Preds 4-2. Lightning goaltender Anders Lindback put on quite the show against his old team, stopping 28 of 30 shots brought against him by the Predators for a Save Percentage of .933, his second best effort this season.
Lightning Head Coach Jon Cooper has spent a lot of time and effort into juggling the lines and finding the right combinations, especially with our ever-rotating cast of characters. It would seem that he has found the combination that work. Granted, as we start to get more of our guys back, that will ultimately change again, but I have faith that Cooper, who has a proven track record of success, will be able to sort everything out.
On the other side of the ice, the Carolina Hurricanes are on the second half of a back-to-back. Last night, they faced Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals at the PNC Arena in Raleigh. Ultimately, it would be the Capitals that would come out on top 4-2 over Carolina.
While the Hurricanes’ stats are very similar to that of the Lightning, they have not found a way to convert those successes into wins. The Hurricanes are currently 14-14-7 and are currently sitting in 4th place in the Metropolitan Division.
|Goals Per Game||2.29||2.63|
|Goals Against Per Game||2.71||2.37|
|Shots on Goal Per Game||29.2||28.57|
|Penalty Minutes Per Game||8.89||11.49|
|Power Play Goals||16||19|
|Power Play Percentage||12.7%||15.7%|
|Penalty Kill Percentage||79.7%||83.6%|
As you can see, the differences between these two teams are not very great. The one place that the Canes do seem to be struggling this season is on special teams. They have only been able to capitalize on 16 of the 126 Power Play opportunities that they have been afforded this season, giving them a 12.7%, which places them in 28th place in the National Hockey League on the Power Play.
Their situation on the Penalty Kill is not much greater. Of the 117 times that they have been shorthanded this season, they have allowed a total of 24 goals while on the Penalty Kill. This has them sitting in 23rd place in the league.
While we have struggled some this season, especially on the Power Play, we are still in a slightly better position than the Canes. We have been able to capitalize on 19 of 121 opportunities on the Power Play. Those numbers have gotten a slight bump as of late with the Lightning’s recently improved offensive effort.
On the penalty kill is where the difference is more prevalent. Of the 122 times that they have been shorthanded this season, they have allowed 20 goals on the Penalty Kill, giving them an 83.6%, which places them 11th in the league on the Penalty Kill right now.
Offensively for the Hurricanes, it is Captain Eric Staal that is leading the way. He has 9 goals and 19 assists for a total of 28 points. He currently leads the Canes in both Points and Assists. Leading the Canes in goals is left wing Jeff Skinner with 12.
On the other side of the ice, it is Captain Martin St. Louis who is leading the charge for the Lightning. He has 14 goals and 19 assists for a total of 33 points. He currently leads the Lightning in all things scoring.
However, not far behind St. Louis is center Valtteri Filppula. Filppula has 12 goals and 12 assists for a total of 24 points so far this season. Filppula has proven to be our go to guy when we need something done. He is solid in the faceoff circle, he scores goals at the most opportune time (see here for an example), and he is solid in the shootout. Some people were skeptical when the Lightning acquired him in the off-season, but I knew in my heart that there was something I liked inside of him, and he has gone to great lengths to illustrate what that was.
Tonight in net for the Lightning will be “Big” Ben Bishop. In the 26 games he has guarded the net for the Lightning this season, he is 18-5-2 with a GAA of just 1.96 and a Save Percentage of .934. He is currently ranked third in the National Hockey League in wins, and third in shutouts, only being topped by Minnesota Wild goaltender Josh Harding and Pittsburgh Penguins netminder Marc-Andre Fleury.
Last night against the Caps, the Canes played Goaltender Cam Ward. It is unknown at this point who will be in net for the Canes tonight. Should they decide to go with Ward, in his 17 appearance so far this season, he is 5-6-5 with a GAA of 3.04 and a Save Percentage of .901. On the other hand, netminder Justin Peters is 7-8-2 with a GAA of 2.16 and a Save Percentage of .929.
If the Lightning stay on the same offensive tear that they have been on in the last few outings and bombard the net with shots, then they will have a good opportunity to throw the goalie off of their game and find their way to the back of the net.
If the Lightning continues to play the way that they did against the Predators, I have no doubt in my mind that the Bolts will come out on top tonight. They have what it takes to get the job done; all they have to do is take the ice and do it.
For all the information you need to catch tonight’s game against the Nashville Predators, all you have to do is click right here.
Are you ready to Be The Thunder as the Lightning defends home ice against the Hurricanes?
When two forces of nature come together, it is bound to be one heck of a show. So whether you are heading to the Forum for tonight’s game, or watching the game from the comfort of your living room or favorite sports bar, we need you to scream loud and proud and let your Tampa Bay Lightning know that their Thunder is right there behind them.