Tampa Bay Lightning Look To Finish The Road Trip Strong Against the Minnesota Wild

Oct 17, 2013; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Ben Bishop (30) against the Minnesota Wild during the third period at Tampa Bay Times Forum. Tampa Bay Lightning defeated the Minnesota Wild 3-1. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Tonight, the Tampa Bay Lightning look to finish off their road trip strong as they travel to the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul to go head-to-head with Mikko Koivu and the Minnesota Wild.

Both of these two teams have a lot in common; everything from the stat sheet to the injury report. The Tampa Bay Lightning and the Minnesota Wild are missing big name players who have been instrumental in their respective successes.

This means that tonight’s game is all that much more important. To be able to stand tall in the face of adversity is something that sets a team apart from the rest. This is something that the Tampa Bay Lightning has been able to do for a majority of the season.

When you take a look at the numbers, these two teams are not very far apart. Fortunately for the Lightning, one of the main differences has been the win column.

Right now, the Minnesota Wild is 29-21-7. One the other side of the ice, the Tampa Bay Lightning are 32-18-5.

As I said before, these two teams are very similar when it comes to the stat sheet. Let’s take a look at this game by the numbers.

Right now, it is Jason Pominville who is holding down the scoring for the Wild. Pominville has 22 goals and 17 assists for a total of 39 points. Leading the way in assists is the captain, Mikko Koivu with 27.

On the other side of the ice, when it comes to scoring, the one name that rings true is the captain, Martin St. Louis. Right now, St. Louis has 25 goals and 28 assists, which gives him a total of 53 points so far this season. All this to go along with his plus-15 rating has made him a driving force for the Lightning this season.

Here is a look at the stat sheet between the Bolts and the Wild so we can see how these two teams match up.

Bolts Wild
Goals Per Game 2.84 2.35
Goals Against Per Game 2.44 2.46
Shots on Goal Per Game 30.4 26.81
Penalty Minutes Per Game 11.05 9.93
Power Play Goals 31 32
Power Play Percentage 17% 17.9%
Penalty Kill Percentage 80.4% 80.2%

 

Now, I know that the differences here do not look like a lot, but just .2% can make all the difference in the world when it comes to the momentum of a game.

It would seem that the Lightning have a slight advantage when it comes to Shots on Goal Per Game. Considering that the Wild are down their top goaltender, this is something that we need to focus on as a team. While I am still very much a proponent of quality over quantity, you can’t deny that when you pepper a goaltender, especially one that doesn’t always get a lot of ice time, you are bound to get one past them.

In other words, the more pressure that we can put on their goaltender the better chance we will have of coming out on top tonight.

Speaking of goaltenders, there is a very good chance that this game is ultimately going to come down to a battle of the goaltenders. From what I can tell, the goaltender in net for the Wild tonight is going to be Darcy Kuemper.

So far this season, Kuemper has suited up for 13 games with the Minnesota Wild. In this amount of him, he has gone 6-3-2 with a GAA of 2.63 and a Save Percentage of .913.

On the other side of the ice, we have Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop, or as Tampa fans have come to know him as, the resident brick wall.

Bishop has played in 41 games with the Bolts so far this season. In that time, he has gone 27-7-4 with a GAA of 1.98 and a Save Percentage of .933. For most of the season, Bishop has found himself in the Top 5 of every goaltending category in the NHL. This is something that Lightning fans are certainly not used to, but something we don’t want to see go away any time soon.

Will Bishop’s experience this season be enough to outplay Kuemper tonight between the pipes? I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

We don’t have long to wait now. The puck is scheduled to drop at 8:00 p.m. ET.

For all the information you need to make sure you don’t miss a minute of the action, you can click right here.

Do you think the Lightning have what it takes to head home with an additional 2 points tonight? What do you think are going to be the keys to a Bolts victory 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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