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Crashing The Net: Bolts Close Out Rough Road Trip

The Tampa Bay Lightning (21-22-5) play the final two games of their dismal six-game road trip this week against the Chicago Blackhawks (30-14-5) and Florida Panthers (20-19-10). During this trip, Tampa Bay has only acquired two out of the eight points available and find themselves at the bottom of the Atlantic Division. It has been speculated that the Bolts will need to claim 49 points in their final 34 games to be in position to claim a playoff spot this season, but for that to happen, they’ll need to get their act together and prove they are the highlight reel team we all thought they could be. No better place to start than now, so let’s take a quick peek at the week ahead with Crashing The Net!

Last Week:

Anaheim Ducks (27-14-9)
When: Tuesday, January 17th – 10:00PM
Result: OT Loss
Score: 2-1
Shots: 28-21 TBL
Power Play: 0/3
Penalty Kill: 4/5
Key Moment: Behind solid goaltending from Anaheim’s John Gibson (19W, 2.27 GAA, .921 Sv%) the entire game, Ducks’ forward Rickard Rakell (20G, 9A) scored a power play goal in overtime to snag this one away from the Lightning. Tampa Bay would play a consistent game, but alas, the Ducks capitalized on the chances given them.

San Jose Sharks (30-16-2)
When: Thursday, January 19th – 10:30PM
Result: Loss
Score: 2-1
Shots: 25-24 TBL
Power Play: 1/3
Penalty Kill: 1/1
Key Moment: Another game snatched from the Lightning at the end as the key moment here is Logan Couture’s (15 G, 16 A) third period score that took down the Bolts 2-1. This would end up being another game where the Lightning played consistently well, but just could not find the offense to make it worthwhile.

Arizona Coyotes (15-26-6)
When: Saturday, January 21st – 8:00PM
Result: Loss
Score: 5-3
Shots: 48-23 TBL
Power Play: 1/5
Penalty Kill: 2/3
Key Moment: In my opinion, the moment which dictated the game was the first goal by Tobias Rieder in the first period. The Lightning outplayed the Coyotes drastically, but could not come away with anything. Then midway through the first, Arizona scored two quick goals and the Bolts were forced to play from behind the rest of the game. They once again lacked anything offensively for most of the game and it proved to be their downfall.

Lightning Statistics From Last Week:
Games Played: 3
Wins: 0
Losses: 3
Points: 2 out of 6 Points
Goals For: 5
Goals Allowed: 9
Power Play: 2/11 = 18.1%
Penalty Kill: 7/9 = 77.7%

Upcoming Games:

Chicago Blackhawks (30-14-5)
Where: United Center
When: Tuesday, January 24th – 8:30PM
Where to Watch: SunS, CSNC

To start off the week, the Lightning face the Blackhawks for the first time this year and hope to start their miniature season series with a much-needed win. This might be a bit of a task as Chicago has been on a tear lately, having secured four of their last six and currently enjoying a three-game winning streak. Led by forwards Patrick Kane (15 G, 33 A) and Artemi Panarin (17 G, 26 A), the Blackhawks are second in their division and are within the top ten in goals scored and against.

The one area the Western Conference juggernaut is lacking is in their penalty kill which is near the bottom of the league at 75.4%. This could be a potentially great opportunity for the Lightning, as their power play has been significantly better throughout the season than in years past. The bad thing is that Chicago has become a significantly disciplined team and rarely give up those chances. For the Lightning to be successful here, they will need to capitalize on those rare moments and make them count.

Florida Panthers (20-19-10)
Where: BB&T Center
When: Thursday, January 26th – 7:30PM
Where to Watch: SunS, FSFL

On Thursday night, the Lightning close out their six-game road trip against their in-state rivals, the Florida Panthers. Unfortunately for both Sunshine State teams, they’ve been struggling and are within three points of one another near the bottom of the Atlantic Division. For the Panthers, these struggles have seen them go on a four-game losing skid as they welcome the Bolts to the BB&T Center. The most significant of these inconsistencies has been their offense, as they are 26th in the league in scoring and their power play is treading water at 15.2%.

Tampa Bay will need to keep their eyes peeled for a familiar face as former Bolt Jonathan Marchessault (13 G, 17 A) has been a breakout star for the Panthers this year. He has been an constant threat for Florida and has already burned the Lightning with a goal earlier this season. For the Lightning to be successful here, they will need to excel at what was once considered the best part of their game… speed. That fast, deadly attack the Bolts made famous over the last few years is the key to taking down the Panthers and their similar style.

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