Exactly six months after the Tampa Bay Lightning defeated the Montreal Canadiens 1-0 in Game Five to claim their second straight Stanley Cup, the two teams will have their first game against each other since then on Tuesday night.
The Tampa Bay Lightning, who sit on a 15-5-4 record, and are 7th in the league above the Carolina Hurricanes and have been on fire as of late. Not only have they had a winning record after a rough start to the season, but they have also adapted well to not having two of their star players on the roster, both injured until January.
The Montreal Canadiens, who currently sit on a 6-17-3 record, and are 31st in the league, only above the Arizona Coyotes. The Canadiens have been disappointing, to put it nicely. To go from the best Canadian team to the second-worst team in the league, it shows that either their run was a fluke last season or the injuries they’re dealing with are turning them from a top team in the league to one of the worst.
Since it’s been a while, we will go over the top three Lightning players based solely on points. All these players have played fantastic over the last month especially and have helped lead the Lightning to be one of the best teams in the league.
Steven Stamkos: 12G 15A 27P
Victor Hedman: 5G 21A 26P
Alex Killorn: 8G 12A 20P
The Lightning’s offense has been on fire, playing some of the best hockey of any team right now. With 81 goals-for, the Lightning’s offense has proven to be one of the best in the league, and if they can keep up with that momentum, they will see themselves at the top of the league in no time.
The Lightning’s defense has been stellar as of late. Allowing only 65 goals against, the defense has stepped it up ever since that rough start to the season. With Victor Hedman and Mikhail Sergachev leading the defense for the Lightning, it seems as though the Lightning may just have one of the best defensive cores in the league, behind the New York Rangers. Tampa Bay allowed just one goal Sunday night in Philadelphia.
The Montreal Canadiens have been bad. That’s all that can be said about them at the moment, unfortunately, and many Canadiens fans agree. But even bad teams have players that shine, and Montreal still has quite the group of top-tier players.
Tyler Toffoli: 5G 12A 17P
Nick Suzuki: 5G 11A 16P
Josh Anderson: 7G 6A 13P
The Canadiens offense has been disappointing, but it’s mainly the fact that many players aren’t living up to expectations. The biggest example is Cole Caufield, a player with very high expectations, who only has six points in 18 games, along with being sent down to the AHL earlier this season. With players like him playing so poorly, the offense is bound to struggle.
The defense has also been horrible for the Canadiens. Tied with the Coyotes for most goals allowed, 93, just proves how bad the defense has been. If the defense stepped it up and the Canadiens found a way to get extra pieces on the back end, they would maybe have a chance to not completely embarrass themselves to end the season. Their defense has been without key pieces in Shea Weber and Joel Edmundson. Additionally, goaltender Carey Price has not played a single game this season either.
Andrei Vasilevskiy (2.13 GAA, .927sv%) will likely start in net for the Lightning, looking to give the Lightning a win against their playoff rivals. Jake Allen (3.01 GAA, .907sv%) will also most likely be in net, a goaltender who has played well despite such poor defense in front of him.
Score: 3-1 Lightning
Shots: 42 Lightning/26 Canadiens
Best Performance: Alex Killorn (2G 0A 2P)
Overall Performance: A+
The Tampa Bay Lightning are much better than Montreal, simple as that. The Canadiens have many issues that need to be resolved, which includes giving the starting goaltender a chance to win. It will be a close game, however, because of how big of a game this is for both teams. Montreal will come ready for this one, and Tampa Bay should expect the best from the Habs.