The Tampa Bay Lightning had a tough time getting it together yesterday as they took on the Buffalo Sabres at the First Niagara Center in Buffalo. Thankfully for them, Lightning Captain Steven Stamkos was able to pull it out by capitalizing on the Power Play in Overtime, defeating the Sabres 4-3. Tonight, the Lightning will look to continue their win streak as they head to the Joe Louis Arena to complete their back-to-back weekend against Gustav Nyquist and the Detroit Red Wings in another must-win game.
While Detroit is still quite a few points behind Tampa Bay in the points standing, they are the Bolts’ nearest competition in the rear view mirror, and the ability to cause as much chaos below them as possible could pose to be very beneficial to the Lightning.
Now, there is no denying that this year is not proving to be the year of the Red Wings. They are suffering from what I like to refer to as “Lightning Syndrome.” In other words, they are dealing with a good number of injuries to key players in their system, and this is causing a bit of disruption in their line chemistry, and thus, their ability to get the job done.
This does not mean that they won’t be a formidable team. The Lightning are going to get a bit of a reprieve tonight, as the Red Wings’ leading goal scorer, captain Henrik Zetterberg is still sidelined by injury; which means that the Bolts will not have to contend with him this evening. However, there are still two dangerous players that they will have to contend with tonight; center Gustav Nyquist and defenseman Niklas Kronwall.
Nyquist has 26 goals and 18 assists in the 49 games he has played this season for a total of 44 points to accompany his plus-14 rating. Nyquist currently leads the Red Wings in goals. The second player the Bolts should be concerned about is Kronwall. He has scored 7 goals and a whopping 37 assists for a total of 44 points so far this season. This makes him the leader on the team in Assists.
On the other side of the ice, they are going to have to contend with the likes of Valtteri Filppula. The Lightning center has scored 24 goals and 32 assists in the 69 games he has played in this season for a total of 56 points to go along with a plus-5 rating. Filppula currently leads the Bolts in both goals and overall points. Also, the Red Wings will have to contend with the likes of defenseman Victor Hedman. The Lightning defenseman has 12 goals and 35 assists for a total of 47 points to go with a plus-3 rating. As you can probably guess, Hedman lead the Bolts in assists.
Now, when you look at the win/loss column, there is no question that the Bolts seemingly have an advantage here, but when you look at the stats, you will see that the Bolts are not poised to simply run away with this game; especially not playing the back half of a back-to-back.
Here is a quick look at the stats comparison between these two teams.
|Goals Per Game|| |
|Goals Against Per Game|| |
|Shots on Goal Per Game|| |
|Penalty Minutes|| |
|Power Play Goals|| |
|Power Play Percentage|| |
|Penalty Kill Percentage|| |
As I said, there are a lot of similarities between these two teams. They are both pretty much neck and neck until you get to the special teams. This is where the Red Wings start to gain a little ground. They are both tied at 45 power play goals; however, the Red Wings have had more opportunities, which gives them a slightly lower PP Percentage. On the other hand, they have a slightly stronger penalty kill, which means that the Bolts’ power play crew is going to have to elevate their game if they hope to notch one during a man advantage.
We are now in the home stretch. Including tonight’s game, there are only eight more games left in regulation this season, which means that every single point matters from here on out. While it is exciting to watch a game head into extra frames, the Lightning need to stop giving away points to teams when they don’t have to. I know we are always told that sharing is caring, but this all goes out the window when it comes to the playoffs. Why?
Because it’s the Cup.
For all the information you’ll need to make sure you don’t miss a minute of the action tonight, you can click right here for the start time, television info, and much more.
What do you think are going to be the keys to tonight’s game? What will the Bolts need to do to secure another two points tonight in Detroit? Let us know what you think in the comments below.