Preview: Tampa Bay Lightning Look to Get Back on Track in Canada Tonight Against the Vancouver Canucks

Dec 29, 2013; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Lightning center Valtteri Filppula (51) is congratulated by teammates after he scored against the New York Rangers during the third period at Tampa Bay Times Forum. New York Rangers defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-3. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Tonight, the Tampa Bay Lightning charge into Rogers Arena to go head-to-head with captain Henrik Sedin and the Vancouver Canucks.

The Lightning will definitely be heading into this game looking for a win. They had a pretty rough weekend after the Christmas Break dropping both games in their back-to-back weekend; first against the Montreal Canadiens and then the New York Rangers.

That’s ok, though. If there is one thing that the Bolts have excelled at this season, it is putting the past behind them and looking forward to the next game. If they hope to succeed against the Canucks, that is exactly what they are going to have to do, keep their eyes on the prize.

This is the first of two meetings between these two teams this season, and the only one at Rogers Arena.

The Lightning have earned at least one point in 10 of their last 12 games. This has allowed them to stay just four points behind the Boston Bruins for second place in the Atlantic Division. However, they are going to have to keep up their winning ways, because the Montreal Canadiens are hot on the Bolts’ heels. The Canadiens now have 50 points this season, tying them with the Lightning.

Much like the Lightning, the Canucks are coming off of a one-goal loss in their last game.

When you look at these two teams by the numbers, there is not a whole lot separating the two of them. The Canucks are currently 23-11-7, while the Lightning are 23-12-4.

Bolts Canucks
Goals Per Game 2.69 2.66
Goals Against Per Game 2.33 2.24
Shots on Goal Per Game 29.49 32.12
Penalty Minutes Per Game 10.87 11.39
Power Play Goals 22 19
Power Play Percentage 16.3% 14.7%
Penalty Kill Percentage 82% 89.7%

 

These two teams have a lot of things in common when it comes to offense; however, there is one thing that could potentially serve as the line in the sand (or ice, as it were) tonight in Vancouver.

Vancouver has a much better penalty kill than the Lightning. The Canucks have a 89.7% on the PK right now. This makes them number one in the NHL right now on the Penalty Kill. This means that even while the Bolts may be up a man on the ice, the Canucks are rather skilled at shutting that down.

Right now, it is left wing Daniel Sedin leading the way for the Canucks in points. He has 13 goals and 22 assists so far this season for a total of 35 points this season. Ironically, they have two different players leading the way in goals and assists. Ryan Kesler is leading the way in goals with 5 and the captain, Henrik Sedin is leading the way in assists with 26.

On the other side of the ice, it is Tampa Bay Lightning captain Martin St. Louis leading the way in all things scoring. St. Louis has scored at least one point in 6 of his last 7 games. So far this season, he has scored 17 goals and 21 assists for a total of 38 points to go along with his plus-11 rating.

I know I have said this a million times, but let’s go ahead and make it a million and one. The Bolts have the talent that they need to get the job done. All they have to do is clear their minds, keep their focus, and get the job done.

Tonight, when the Tampa Bay Lightning take the ice, they will be getting back left wing Ryan Malone. Malone has been out since November 22nd when he suffered a broken ankle as a result of blocking a shot against the Anaheim Ducks. This is good news for the Bolts as Malone has a solid presence in front of the net, and is generally good with picking up rebounds.

Ben Bishop will be getting the start tonight against the Canucks tonight. So far this season, Bishop has suited up for 29 games with the Lightning. In that time, he has gone 20-5-3 with a GAA of 1.89 and a Save Percentage of .935.

On the other side of the ice, it is more than likely that goaltender Eddie Lack will be between the pipes for the Canucks tonight. In his 13 appearances so far this season, he has gone 7-2-1 with a GAA of 1.84 and a Save Percentage of .929.

No matter how you slice it, the Lightning are going to have to be on their game tonight. They need to prevent themselves from falling victim to any unnecessary penalties, keep the puck out of the defensive zone as much as possible, and take as many shots on the net as possible. You know…the usual.

The puck is set to drop at 10:00 p.m. EST. If you need information on how to watch/listen to tonight’s matchup, you can find everything you need to know right here.

What do you think are the keys to tonight’s game? Do you think the Lightning have what it takes to kick this road trip off with a bang? Let us know what you think in the comments below.

 

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Topics: Game Preview, NHL, Tampa Bay Lightning

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