The Bolts put up a valiant fight against Evgeni Malkin and the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday night at the CONSOL Energy Center in Pittsburgh; however, the Lightning would ultimately fall in overtime. The good news is that they didn’t walk away empty handed. They did come home with at least one point.
Unfortunately, one point games are not going to keep the Lightning in the playoff picture. This is why the Bolts are going to have to put their best skate forward in front of the home crowd tonight.
As far as the season series is concerned, the Bolts have a 2-1 game lead over the Senators. Obviously, they will be looking to even that up tonight; however, I have a distinct feeling that Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop is going to have something to say about that.
Speaking of which, have we ever formally thanked Ottawa for trading us Ben Bishop?
This is certainly going to be no easy tasks for the Bolts. Not only are the Senators a rough and tumble kind of team, but they are also a pretty decent scoring team as well.
Right now, the leading points scorer for the Senators is defenseman Erik Karlsson. So far this season, Karlsson has 19 goal and 46 assists for a total of 65 points. Karlsson is also the leads in assists for his team. On the goal scoring front, the Senators are being led by right wing Bobby Ryan, who has 23 goals so far this season.
Unfortunately for the Senators, they will be without Bobby Ryan heading into tonight’s game.
On the other side of the ice it is Lightning center Valtteri Filppula that is leading the charge for the Bolts. Filppula has 24 goals and 29 assists so far this season for a total of 53 points in addition to his plus-4 rating. Leading the way in assists is defenseman Victor Hedman who has 11 goals and 35 for a total of 46 points.
While the win/loss column may not reflect it, the Sens do have a slight advantage over the Lightning when it comes to the stat sheet.
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There are no major gaps in the numbers, but as I said, there is a slight advantage to the Senators. As I have said previously, this is going to come down to who wants it the most, and whose desire to win overcomes.
As always, the Bolts need to do whatever they can to avoid the penalty box. There have been way too many times, albeit slightly less in the most recent games, where the Bolts have fallen prey to a penalty that could have very easily been avoided, therefore opening the door for the other team’s special teams squad to come charging in and capitalize on the opportunity.
It will certainly be an interesting battle between the pipes tonight. In the net for the Senators erwill be goaltender Robin Lehner. Lehner has gone 7-15-5 in the 30 games he has suited up for so far this season, giving him a GAA of 3.30 and a Save Percentage of .906.
On the other side of the ice, we have goaltender Ben Bishop. Bishop has a franchise leading record of 34-11-6 so far this season with a GAA of 2.17 and a Save Percentage of .927.
However, and this is nothing against Lehner in any way, but if it came down to it, I would put my money on Bishop any day of the week.
As most of you are well aware, there are only 11 more games this season including tonight’s encounter. Every single point is an important one, and every game needs to be played like a playoff game. This is the one sure-fire way to make sure that the Bolts secure their spot in the post season.
What do you think are going to be the keys to tonight’s game? What do you think the Lightning need to do to ensure themselves a spot in the playoffs? Let us know what you think in the comments below.
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