The Tampa Bay Lightning play their first set of back to back matches this season on Tuesday night in Pittsburgh after a 5-1 loss against the Buffalo Sabres on Monday night. The Lightning are currently 2-3-1 in the season, and the Penguins 3-0-2
Monday night was an unfortunate night for the Lightning, as they played very well offensively, but failed miserably on defense and in net. The Sabres defeated the Lightning 5-1, with Brian Elliott in net for Tampa, earning himself a .870% save. After this performance, we expect to see Andrei Vasilevskiy back in net.
The Lightning defense was miserable, with Erik Cernak creating a goal against after he completely whiffed on a pass, giving Drake Caggiula an easy goal. Victor Hedman finished this game off with a -4, the worst on the team for defenseman. Sloppy plays were made by the Lightning defense, and it just seemed like they weren’t there with the right mentality.
As we head towards Tuesday night, it’s best to see what the Lightning are dealing with after not only losing 5-1 to Buffalo, but also losing 6-2 against Pittsburgh to start the season.
Starting with the Lightning, who have had some of the best offense in the entire league, these are the top three players based on points.
Steven Stamkos (LW): 4G, 5A, 9P
Victor Hedman (D): 0G, 7A, 7P
Alex Killorn (LW): 3G, 1A, 4P
Not much to say about this Lightning offense, but a major flaw of all the offense except for Steven Stamkos, is that they haven’t finished their plays. When there’s that big of a point jump between lines, especially when Brayden Point only has just three points, it’s clear that there is a serious issue with finishing plays. This is something that the Lightning need to get figured out.
Now for the defense, pretty much everything needs to be fixed. Victor Hedman is the only defender able to do anything, and he’s an offensive defenseman too. While this defense does have new faces in it like Andrej Sustr and Zach Bogosian (Bogosian currently in IR), it still shouldn’t cause the defense to go from top five to bottom five in just one offseason.
Now it’s time to look at the Penguins top players, who are all players you would not expect to be doing so well.
Danton Heinen: 3G, 2A, 5P
Evan Rodrigues: 3G, 2A, 5P
Drew O’Connor: 3G, 2A, 5P
The offense of this Penguins team has been a shocker, and in a good way too. For a team missing Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, they’re playing exceptional right now. This is something the Lightning will need to adjust to. Just because you don’t know the name, it doesn’t mean they won’t make your day miserable.
The defense on this team. Wow. Marcus Pettersson has a +/- of +10, which is a league high. Compare this to Cale Makar and Hedman who are currently in the negatives, it’s something nobody expected. Tampa Bay needs to pay attention to this and try to find a weakness in the Penguins’ injury ridden roster.
Both goaltenders have been solid, but Tristan Jarry has been much better. A .943% save compared to Vasilevskiy’s .893%, those are numbers unexpected by the player Penguins’ fans called to trade in the offseason. The Lightning need to figure out how to get the puck past Jarry.
This game is going to be difficult, and this red hot Penguins team will not rest against the defending cup champions. If the Lightning want to win, they need to be much more aggressive, but also a lot more defense oriented so that Vasilevskiy doesn’t need to worry.
Score: 3-1 Penguins
Shots: 32 Lightning/29 Penguins
Top Performer: Anthony Cirelli (1G, 0A, 1P)
Overall Performance: C+
This Penguins team is just tough. It’s hard to imagine any team in the league beating them right now. While Tampa Bay will most likely fix some of their mistakes, don’t be surprised if the defense still has issues, and that will most likely lead to a couple goals being put in by the Penguins. Make sure to keep an eye out on all the things in not only this article, but also other articles that go over the takeaways and analysis of different games and moves.
The Lightning visit the Penguins at 7pm EST