Tampa Bay Lightning seek to regain consistency against Sharks

(Photo by Andrew Bershaw/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
(Photo by Andrew Bershaw/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /

The Tampa Bay Lightning looks to keep mistakes and inconsistencies to a minimum against the San Jose Sharks.

To put it simply, the Tampa Bay Lightning did not look good Thursday night against the Minnesota Wild. To make things worse, Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy didn’t look close to his best.

To be fair to Vasilevskiy, the Lightning didn’t look great in defensive zone coverage, to say the least. Still, I’m sure Vasilevskiy himself would admit that he’d like to have some of those chances back.

Overall, it just seemed like one of those nights where the Lightning would try clawing their way back all game long. In frustrating fashion, however, they could never get back to a lead like they had when they jumped to a 1-0 lead in the first period.

For some reason, this seems like the story of the season so far through 26 games. They’ve looked great at times, they’ve looked poorly many other times. Some will only see this team as the inconsistent team reeling from an early exit in the playoffs last year. Others may see it as trials and tribulations that will make this team stronger.

Last year’s team didn’t have to deal with the amount of adversity this year’s team has. Once again, some would like to think this is what’s best for the Lightning. Regardless, the Tampa Bay Lightning need to start putting wins on the scoreboard on a regular basis. The Bolts will try to do just that when they look to bounce back after another frustrating loss.

Nuts and Bolts: 

This is the Lightning’s first matchup against the Sharks this season. They’ll play each other one more time on February 1 in San Jose. Much like the Minnesota team that the Lightning played against on Thursday, the San Jose Sharks are on the up and up.

Yes, the Sharks have lost two straight games.  However, after starting off the season in shambles, losing their first four games, they’ve clawed back to a respectable record. At 15-13-2, with 32 points, they are 5th in the Pacific division. They are also tied with the Minnesota Wild for the last wild card spot in the Western Conference.

In terms of special teams, they boast the best Penalty Kill Percentage in the league at 91.4%. The Tampa Bay Lightning, on the other hand, are third in the league in Power Play percentage at 29.1%. This matchup will likely have a huge impact on the game.

Electrifying Player Matchups:

It’ll be interesting to see how each of these teams two star wingers, in Nikita Kucherov and Evander Kane, match up against each other. Both of these players lead their respective teams in goals, but it’s much more than that. Both players are also game-changers on the ice that can legitimately swing the outcomes of games simply with their presence.

To start the season, the Sharks were without Kane for three games, as he was suspended for abusing an official. The Sharks lost all three of those games. They still weren’t great when he came back and it took a little time for everything to click. Regardless, his presence was felt immediately.

While the Lightning has a few more weapons on offense, Nikita Kucherov is still their most dynamic one. Just his presence on the Power Play forces team to stay on him, giving four other guys on the ice chances.

This shows why the team has a top-five Power Play unit in the league. On top of that, Kucherov has been on a tear as of late. He has 10 points in his last five games and is looking more and more like the Hart Memorial Trophy winner of last year. Evander Kane hasn’t been as electric in his last five games, notching only two points (1 goal, 1 assist).

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It’ll be interesting to see which impact player will leave their mark on this matchup.