Nov 12, 2013; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Tampa Bay Lightning center Valtteri Filppula (51) scores a goal against Montreal Canadiens goalie Carey Price (31) during a shootout at Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

Preview: Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Montreal Canadiens


Tonight, the Tampa Bay Lightning returns from the Christmas Break opening the doors to the Tampa Bay Times Forum to host Brian Gionta and the Montreal Canadiens.

This is an all-too important game or the Lightning. Right now, the Canadiens are only 2 points behind the Bolts in the Atlantic Division; two points they stand to win against the Lightning. However, I have a pretty good feeling that the Bolts, who are just 5 points behind the Boston Bruins right now, will have something to say about it.

When the Habs roll into town, the Bolts will be riding the longest regular season winning streak that the Bolts have been on since before the 2010-11 Playoffs.

This is certainly going to be no walk in the park for the Lightning; however, there is nothing in the numbers that say that this can’t be done. With a few minor exceptions, these two teams are fairly well matched.

Habs Bolts
Goals Per Game 2.47 2.73
Goals Against Per Game 2.13 2.32
Shots on Goal Per Game 28.82 29.35
Penalty Minutes Per Game 11.68 11.14
Power Play Goals 28 21
Power Play Percentage 21.4% 16.2%
Penalty Kill Percentage 86.4% 83.5%

 

Right now, the Habs are 22-13-3 while the Lightning are 23-11-3; similar records to go along with their similar stats. There is only one thing separating these two teams; the special teams.

Unfortunately for the Lightning, this is one of the teams whose Special Teams is actually better than the Lightning. This means that they will have to be especially careful not to end up in the penalty box for one of those “unnecessary penalties” that I have been talking about all season long.

At this point in the season, leading the way for the Habs is P.K. Subban. Right now, Subban has 5 goals and 22 assists for a total of 27 points. Subban currently leads the Habs in both Assists and Points. Leading the way in goals is left wing Max Pacioretty with 15.

On the other side of the ice, it is the Captain who is leading the way for the Lightning. Martin St. Louis has 16 goals and 21 assists for a total of 37 points so far this season. St. Louis scored a point in each of the Lightning’s last 5 games.

Another player on a 5 game point streak is center Valtteri Filppula. Filppula’s 1 goal and 1 assist in the 6-1 rout of the Florida Panthers on December 23rd gave the Vantaa, Finland native 13 goals and 15 assists so far this season for a total of 28 points. He has also been one of our key players, both in the faceoff circle and in the shootout.

This is the second time that these two teams are meeting his season. The first encounter was on November 12th when the Lightning beat the Habs 2-1 in the Shootout. It was the goal from Filppula in the shootout that took the Bolts to victory.

As of late, the Lightning has been playing a very offensive game. They have been continually crossing the 30 goal threshold early in the third period. They are putting the puck on the net, connecting with rebounds, and keeping the puck in the offensive zone as much as possible. These are all things that they are going to have to continue if they want to keep the momentum going this weekend.

There is a good chance that the Lightning will not have defensemen Eric Brewer or Sami Salo for today’s game against the Habs. In preparation for this, the Lightning have recalled defenseman Dmitry Korobov from the Syracuse Crunch.

Both the Bolts and the Habs are playing back-to-back games this weekend; the Bolts play both at home, and the Habs will play both in Florida.

At this point, it is not known for certain which goaltender will be in the net tonight against Montreal. One could assume that Lightning goaltenders Ben Bishop and Anders Lindback would be sharing duties in the net this weekend, but nothing is for certain right now. The same can be said about the situation in net for the Canadiens.

The puck drops at 7:00 p.m. tonight. For all the information you need to catch every minute of Tampa Bay Lightning Hockey action tonight, all you have to do is click right here.

What do you think the Tampa Bay Lightning needs to do in order to keep momentum rolling when the doors to the Forum open tonight? Will the Bolts be able to make it 6 tonight? Sound off in the comments below and let us know what you think.

 

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Tags: Game Previews NHL Tampa Bay Lightning