Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy will get his first start of the season tonight as the Lightning take on the New Jersey Devils.
The Tampa Bay Lightning certainly started off their season right when they came from behind to throttle their Atlantic Division rivals, the Detroit Red Wings, 6-4 on Thursday night at the Amalie Arena. Tonight, the Bolts will be lacing up their skates once again in the hopes of continuing their winning ways against the New Jersey Devils.
As we mentioned before, the Lightning kicked off the season right with a win over the Red Wings. Unfortunately, things didn’t go quite as smoothly for the New Jersey Devils on Thursday night. It took an extra frame to get the job done, but the Florida Panthers would defeat the Devils 2-1 with an overtime goal from Aleksander Barkov.
You can bet the Devils will be looking for a little redemption. Unfortunately for the Devils, unless they can find a way to match the Lightning’s intensity on the ice and make some viable shots on goal early in the game, they are going to find themselves in a rather precarious position.
Tampa Bay Lightning
A different Lightning player was responsible for each of their six goals on Thursday night. It was a glorious display of the usual suspects at the Amalie Arena. Jonathan Drouin opened things up for the Lightning in the second period, followed by an unassisted goal from Cedric Paquette just past the halfway point of the period.
With the exception of one goal, the third period was all about the Tampa Bay Lightning. Lightning forwards Brian Boyle, Tyler Johnson, and Alex Killorn would all score before the Red Wings answered with a goal from Danny DeKeyser. Then, an unassisted goal from Valtteri Filppula would put the final nail in the Red Wings’ coffin late in the third period.
Down the road a little bit, it would be former Tampa Bay Lightning forward Jonathan Marchessault who would open things up for the Panthers in the first period against the Devils. Just before the buzzer sounded to end the first period of play, the Devils would answer with a goal from PA Parenteau.
Surprisingly enough, this would be the end of the goal scoring until the overtime goal from Barkov to end the game. While most of the stats of the night would lead you to believe it was a fair fight between these two teams, the shots on goal tell a different story.
If you are a Tampa Bay Lightning fan, there is no doubt you are already in game day mode. In just a few more hours, Lightning fans will charge the Amalie Arena to watch the Bolts take on their next opponent. Before the Bolts get down to business, here’s a look at some things you should know about tonight’s game.
Tampa Bay Lightning
One of the very first things fans should know is Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy will get his first start of the 2016-17 season between the pipes tonight against the Devils.
The news was confirmed this morning by Tampa Bay Lightning Beat Writer Bryan Burns who had an opportunity to speak with Lightning Head Coach Jon Cooper on the matter.
While his stats from last season weren’t exactly stellar, a lot of that can be attributed to lack of play. Judging by what we have been hearing thus far, it seems the Lightning are prepared to rectify this in the new season.
Starting Vasilevskiy in net tonight could lead some of the more superstitious fans to believe there is something evil brewing between the pipes in Tampa Bay, but at this particular point, we’re pretty sure there’s nothing to see here. Just ask Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop.
"“There’s nothing wrong with a night off, especially when you’ve got a capable guy coming in.” Ben Bishop told Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay Times."
It seems as if Tampa Bay Lightning fans are about to witness another milestone tonight. According to Burns, unless something changes in tonight’s lineup prior to the game, Lightning defenseman Braydon Coburn will be playing in his 700th career NHL game tonight at the Amalie Arena.
"“It’s honor to play in this league, and it’s definitely something I’ve worked hard my whole life to do.” Coburn told Burns."
New Jersey Devils
The Devils may have gotten off to a rough start, but make no mistake, the Devils know exactly what they are walking into tonight in Tampa Bay. Devils Head Coach John Hynes told Devils radio play-by-play analyst Matt Loughlin just how serious their first three games of the season are.
"“The team opens with 3 playoff teams from last year. Last night was a lesson in how top teams play a consistently hard-on-puck game.” Hynes told Loughlin."
It seems as if the Tampa Bay Lightning will be seeing a different Devils team than the Panthers saw on Thursday night. According to Devils reporter Julie Robenhymer, the lines for tonight’s game have been put into the blender and shaken quite nicely.
This could be the offensive shake up the Devils need to get back on track. If the Tampa Bay Lightning wants to continue on the course they set themselves on during Thursday’s game against the Red Wings, the defense is going to have to think outside the box and really work to keep the Devils at bay.
While nothing has been confirmed as of yet, the Tampa Bay Lightning could be facing off with Devils netminder Cory Schneider between the pipes tonight. After stopping 32 of 34 shots against the Panthers on Thursday night and still somehow picking up the loss, Schneider will be looking to get his team back on track against the Bolts.
Cory Schneider has not always had the best of luck against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Schneider has a 3.15 goals against average against the Bolts. This could play heavily into the Lightning’s revitalized offense and their quickly improving power play unit.
No matter which way you look at it, Tampa Bay Lightning fans are going to be in for one heck of a night of hockey as they make their way to the Amalie Arena tonight. Both teams have but one goal in mind, putting the puck in the back of the net and bringing home the victory.
The Lightning find themselves poised for another deep run in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, but if they are going to make their way to the finish line, they are going to have to build the foundation for success early on in the season. In other words, there is no opportune moment to take their feet off the gas.
Tonight is the Lightning’s second game in a string of four home games to start off the season. Let’s hope the Bolts can pick up where they left off on Thursday night and continue to ride the momentum into the remainder of the season.
The Tampa Bay Lightning certainly have a lot to prove this season. After Lightning Vice President and General Manager Steve Yzerman was able to keep the Lightning’s core intact for another couple seasons, it will be on the players on the ice to prove they have what it takes to make it to the top of the NHL.