Tampa Bay Lightning Look To Bounce Back Against Senators

Mandatory Credit: Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports /

After an uncharacteristic performance against the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday, the Tampa Bay Lightning will look to bounce back against the Senators tonight.

Okay, let’s face it. The Tampa Bay Lightning dropped a tough one on Thursday at Amalie Arena. And even though everyone inside was celebrating the 20th anniversary of the arena’s opening, there wasn’t much celebration on the ice for one side after the puck dropped between the Lightning and Colorado Avalanche.

The Tampa Bay Lightning headed into this game on a bit of a roll after a quick 3-0-0 start, but most of the magic from the three previous games had worn off as the game progressed. Before you knew it, the Lightning were down 4-0 midway through the third period and fans bolted for the exits.

As one would expect after seeing the final score, the team came out flat and played a sloppy game, and most fans were hoping for another high-scoring affair or thrilling comeback, like they’ve done so many times before. From an analysis standpoint, some would say this game was one for the taking with Colorado’s suspect defense and average goaltending.

Tampa Bay Lightning
Tampa Bay Lightning /

Tampa Bay Lightning

You could say the script was reversed on Thursday, however, it was obvious the Lightning as a whole did not care to show up for this game and displayed a “disinterested” effort in front of the home crowd. Our own site expert, Tasha St. Pierre, broke down what went wrong, and right, for that matter, for the Lightning, so you can take a look for yourself.

Instead of bashing the team for its first loss of the season (had to happen eventually), especially after a solid start to the new campaign, let’s take a look at the Lightning’s next opponent in the Ottawa Senators.

Coming into tonight, the Senators (3-1-0, 6 pts.) goaltending has allowed 16 goals and the team as a whole has given up an average of 30.5 shots against per game. In terms of possession metrics, the Senators’ SAT% dips just below 49 percent after four games, which isn’t terrible, but they’re above 50 percent in the unblocked shot attempts category.

Fortunately for them, though, is that the offense has been there to cover up the mistakes, scoring 17 goals to the 16 they have given up. If you do the math there, Ottawa currently has a +1 goal differential. As we would hope, that number will dip into the negative after tonight.

With that said, one would expect the Lightning to wake up and come out with a spirited effort, potentially scoring four or five goals against Guy Boucher‘s Senators. Speaking of which, the Tampa Bay Lightning will face one of its former head coaches tonight, so that’s another story line to watch out for.

While in Tampa, Boucher was known for implementing his famed, yet hated 1-3-1 neutral zone trap and forechecking system, which worked for a while with the Lightning, but ultimately it didn’t last and he was fired from the team in place of Jon Cooper, who emphasizes the speed game, especially during his first season, instead of the “sit back and see what happens” mentality.

In any matter, Boucher has guided his team to a 3-1-0 start and since arriving in Canada’s capital, he has emphasized a speed, quick transition, and high paced type of game, especially with one the NHL’s elite defensemen, Erik Karlsson, on the team.

So far, the 26-year-old Swede leads the team in assists (5), points (7), has 12 shots on goal, a 16.7 shooting percentage (which will drop as the season progresses), is tied for the lead with a plus-7 rating, and in terms of possession, he leads with 86 shots attempts for and 75 unblocked shot attempts for. And to no surprise, Karlsson leads the team with total time on ice (108:29) and average time on ice per game (27:07).

He’s an absolute machine when it comes to producing offense and controlling possession and is a player the Lightning always needs to watch out for when playing the Senators.

More from Lightning News

In order for the Tampa Bay Lightning to emerge victorious tonight over Ottawa, they’ll need to take advantage of the Senators’ fickle goaltending situation and sloppy defensive play in their own zone, as we’ve seen in years past.

It’ll also be important to grab the lead early on and take control of the game from the start. In each of their four games, they never led in the first period and were constantly fighting to take the lead, which adds an extra layer of pressure on everyone.

I’m not going to expect a masterpiece or perfect 60 minutes of play tonight, but I at least want to see them grab the lead, take advantage of any opportunity they get on the Power Play (currently at 20 percent, which is not bad considering their recent struggles), and shoot when possible, while eliminating some of their passing issues and turnover creation.

It won’t be as easy as before, but the Lightning has a good shot of pulling out another win and bouncing back after a 4-0 drumming in Tampa.

After a solid start to the season on home ice, the Lightning will embark on their first road trip of the regular season and the first stop is tonight in Ottawa. Following that, the team will head to Toronto to face the Auston Matthews-led Maple Leafs and hopefully, they’ll start a new winning streak on this very important opening road swing of the year.

Next: Lightning Named Top Franchise In ESPN Ultimate Rankings

You can catch the game on Fox Sports Sun, with pregame beginning at 6:30 p.m., and tune in on Lightning Radio at 970 WFLA for puck drop at 7 p.m. Online streaming options are available with Fox Sports Go as well. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for more news and updates surrounding the Lightning.