Tampa Bay Lightning..."/> Tampa Bay Lightning..."/> Tampa Bay Lightning..."/>

Preview: Tampa Bay Lightning vs. New Jersey Devils


Tonight, the Tampa Bay Lightning will head out on their second game of this three-game road trip that the embarked on Sunday in Sunrise when they faced off with the in-state rival Florida Panthers. Tonight, the Bolts will travel to the Prudential Center in Jersey to go head-to-head with Patrik Elias and the New Jersey Devils. Let’s take a closer look at tonight’s matchup.

March 29, 2013; Tampa FL, USA; Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Teddy Purcell (16) scores a goal on New Jersey Devils goalie Martin Brodeur (30) during the shoot out at Tampa Times Forum. Tampa Bay Lightning defeated the New Jersey Devils 5-4. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

So far this season, the Lightning is 8-3-0. This is a far cry from where this very same team was at this point last season. They have come up against some of the toughest teams in the league, including the defending Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks.

While few of their games have been runaways, they have always seemed to find a way to win.

Unfortunately for the Devils, the same cannot be said for them this season. They are currently 2-5-4, leaving them near the bottom of the Eastern Conference, chilling with the Philadelphia Flyers and the Buffalo Sabres.

If you look at this by the numbers, there is no reason that these two teams couldn’t have the exact same record.

Goals Per Game3.362.18
Goals Against Per Game2.823
Shots on Goal Per Game27.1827
Penalty Minutes Per Game16.556.73
Power Play Goals119
Power Play Percentage23.9%22.5%
Penalty Kill Percentage82.6%82.8%

Other than the difference in Goals per Game and Penalty Minutes per game, these two teams are really on par with each other. Both of them are averaging just around 27 shots on goal per game, they are both around 23% on the Power Play, and they are both around 82% on the Penalty Kill.

Exactly what is it that is separating the two?

Right now, Steven Stamkos has taken the lead for the Tampa Bay Lightning in all things scoring. He currently has 8 goals and 9 assists for a total of 17 points.

Right now, there is no one standout for the Devils. Right now, right wing Damien Brunner is leading the Devils in goals with 4. Defenseman Marek Zidlicky leads in the team in Assists with 8. However, the overall points lead goes to veteran right wing Jaromir Jagr, who has 2 goals and 7 assists for a total of 9 points.

Stamkos has 15 points in the last eight games, seven of which have come during their current 3 game win streak. Stamkos also netted the shootout winner against the Florida Panthers on Sunday night.

Jagr has six assists in the last four games; two of which came during their come-from-behind win in Boston on Saturday.

The Devils will be playing tonight without defenseman Bryce Salvador or goaltender Cory Schneider, both of which are on Injured Reserve. Salvador has a stress fracture in his foot, while Schneider is suffering from a Lower Body Injury.

This means that the duties between the pipes will fall on the shoulders of goaltender Martin Brodeur.

Brodeur is 5-1-2 so far this season with a GAA of 3.32 and a Save Percentage of .871.

It is unknown at this point who will be guarding the net for the Lightning tonight. The Bolts could choose to stick with goaltender Anders Lindback, who picked up his first win of the season on Sunday against the Panthers, or they could fall back on goaltender Ben Bishop who has been solid for the franchise the entire season.

Lindback is currently 1-2 in his four appearances this season with a GAA of 3.48 and a Save Percentage of .864. On the other hand, Bishop is 7-1 in his eight starts so far this season with a GAA of 2.47 and a Save Percentage of .914.

No matter which of the goaltenders the Lightning choose to roll with, the Lightning defense will need to step it up and make sure that they are getting in front of shots and clearing the puck from the defensive zone. Even the strongest goaltender in the league can’t do it by themselves.

Can the Lightning extend their win streak to 4 games, or will the Devils put a kink in their plans? We’ll have to watch and see when the puck drops tonight at 7:30 p.m. in New Jersey.

Make sure to check back with us tonight as we take you through all the action and highlights in our Game Recap.

Be sure to stay up-to-date with all the latest Lightning news and updates with Bolts By the Bay. LIKE us on Facebook at Bolts By The Bay, and you can follow us on Twitter at @BoltsByTheBay.