Preview: Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Florida Panthers

Oct 10, 2013; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Ben Bishop (30) falls into the goal as defenseman Matt Carle (25) defends Florida Panthers center Brad Boyes (24) during the third period at Tampa Bay Times Forum. The Lightnings won 7-2. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Tonight, the Tampa Bay Lightning take the trip down I-75 and head to the BB&T Center in Sunrise to go head-to-head with our in-state rivals, the Florida Panthers.

We may be in the same state, but right now, we couldn’t possibly be looking at two different teams.

Right now, the Lightning are 22-11-3 and sitting in third place in the Eastern Conference. The Panthers on the other hand are 14-18-5 and sitting in the fourteenth in the Eastern Conference.

The Panthers have a good amount of talent on their team. Unfortunately, they have not been able to convert that into wins.

When you take a look at the numbers, there is nothing to indicate that the Lightning will walk away without the two points; however, it is when you start to underestimate people that you tend to get surprised.

Until Friday, the Panthers had won five games in a row. It wasn’t until Friday in Winnipeg when the Winnipeg Jets handed the Panthers their first loss.

Much the same as the Lightning, a good number of these wins have been one goal games. This proves that they are willing to fight in order to come out on top. Given the already established rivalry between these two teams, that hunger to win is going to be taken to an entirely new level.

Let’s take a look at the numbers.

Bolts Panthers
Goals Per Game 2.73 2.24
Goals Against Per Game 2.5 3.05
Shots on Goal Per Game 28.17 29.22
Penalty Minutes Per Game 12 11.51
Power Play Goals 18 13
Power Play Percentage 17% 10.7%
Penalty Kill Percentage 83% 73.5%

 

As was the case with the Carolina Hurricanes, there is not what one could call a great difference in the numbers between these two teams; however, the Panthers seem to struggle greatly on special teams.

While the Lightning certainly do not have the best Power Play in the entire league, as that honor belongs to the Pittsburgh Penguins, they are certainly not in the same position as the Panthers.

With a Power Play Percentage of 10.7%, the Panthers sit at the very bottom of the National Hockey League on the Power Play. So far, they have only been able to capitalize on 13 of 122 chances afforded to them this season.

Things are not much different on the Penalty Kill. Their 73.5% places them at 29th in the NHL on the Penalty Kill. With 83% on the Penalty Kill, the Lightning are sitting in 11th place.

However, as I said previously, the numbers can be very deceiving on occasion. The Panthers have won seven of the ten games that they’ve played during the month of December. That is one more than the Lightning have won during the same period of time.

Right now, it’s left wing Tomas Fleischmann who is holding it down for the Florida Panthers. He has 5 goal and 14 assists for a total of 19 points so far this season. He leads the Panthers in both Points and Assists. Center Brad Boyes is leading the Panthers in goals with 9.

On the other side of the ice, it is all about the Captain. Right wing Martin St. Louis has 15 goals and 19 assists for a total of 34 points so far this season. He currently leads the Lightning in all things scoring.

More than likely, the Lightning will choose to go with “Big” Ben Bishop between the pipes tonight. So far this season, he is 19-5-2 with a GAA of 1.96 and a Save Percentage of .934.

After playing goaltender Jacob Markstrom in net against the Jets on Friday, and with Tim Thomas still being on injured reserve, it is likely that they will give goaltender Scott Clemmensen the start tonight at home. So far this season he is 4-2-1 with a GAA of 2.60 and a Save Percentage of .902.

There is no denying that both of these teams are hungry for the win. This means that both teams are going to be willing to fight for every opportunity, every second, and every shot while on the ice. Given the well-established rivalry between these two teams, you can ensure that this is going to be a good game.

This will be the third time that these two teams have met this season. The Lightning has taken both games. Will the third time be the charm for the Florida Panthers, or will the Tampa Bay Lightning extend their win streak to 5? We will all have to watch and find out.

If you can’t make it to the BB&T Center in Sunrise tonight, and still want to catch all the Tampa Bay Lightning hockey action, we’ve got all the information you’ll need to never miss a second right here.

What do you think the Tampa Bay Lightning are going to need to do in order to come out on top against the Panthers? Who do you think is going to stand out for the Bolts tonight? Sound off in the comments below and let us know what you think.

 

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Topics: NHL, Tampa Bay Lightning

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