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Crashing The Net: Road Trip Continues This Week Through The Northeast

Last Week: The Tampa Bay Lightning went 2-1 during the previous week’s schedule, improving their record to 4-1-0 to start the 2016-17 regular season. Despite struggling in a 4-0 loss to Colorado, Tampa Bay’s week contained many positives, including a 4-3 come-from-behind shootout victory over Florida and a dominant 4-1 victory in Ottawa.

Standout Moment of The Week: For me it was Steven Stamkos’s game-tying goal against Florida with about six ticks left in regulation time. The Lighting found themselves down 3-2 in the third period and face-to-face with their first loss of the season. That is, until Victor Hedman fed Stamkos, or Clutch-kos if you will, at the bottom corner of the ice. Stamkos would then fire a one-timer at an almost impossible angle over the shoulder of Panthers’ goaltender James Reimer. Not only was the goal a marvel to see, but it kept the Bolts alive, enabling them to eventually win the game in a shootout.

Lightning Statistics From Last Week:

  • Games Played: 3
  • Wins: 2 (1 in SO)
  • Loses: 1
  • Points: 4
  • Goals For: 8
  • Goal Allowed: 8
  • Power Play: 2/10 = 20%
  • Penalty Kill: 0/8 = 100%

Upcoming Games:

Toronto Maple Leafs (1-1-3)

Where: Air Canada Centre

When: Tuesday, October 25th – 7:30PM

Where to watch: Sun Sports

The Tampa Bay Lightning start off the week against a familiar foe in the new and improved Toronto Maple Leafs. The Leafs have shot out to a mediocre start behind rookie sensation Auston Matthews (5GP-5G-3A) and head coach Mike Babcock. Matthews has made quite a few headlines in his early career as the number one overall pick in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft and is the only rookie to ever have scored 4 goals in his debut. His combination of speed, skill, and hockey sense has already made him a thorn in the opposition’s paw, while also elevating the play of his line mates. One of those linemates is William Nylander (5GP-3G-4A), who has already scored half of the goals he did in his 22-game campaign with the Maple Leafs last year.

The Maple Leafs have lost their last three games by only one goal, with the most recent being a 5-4 shootout loss to Chicago (3-3-0) on Saturday. This is a recipe for a frustrated team to come out swinging as they start their mini homestead against the Lightning. The biggest thing to watch out for when it comes to Toronto is their offense. With 18 goals already (9th in the NHL as of now), they’ll look for their young roster to make up for their tendency to give up goals at inopportune times. Mesh this with the Lightning’s style of play, and you should have a fun game to watch.

Montreal Canadiens (4-0-1)

Where: Bell Centre

When: Thursday, October 27th – 7:30PM

Where to watch: Sun Sports

Next up for the Bolts is the Montreal Canadiens, who have yet to suffer a regulation loss this season. This is quite a feat, as top goaltender Carey Price was out with a severe case of the flu at the start of the season. This enabled backup Al Montoya to skate in the spotlight for the first three games of the season and post a 2-0-1 record while doing so. Now that Price is back, he is eager to shake off the rust after missing most of the 2015-16 campaign due to a MCL sprain. So far so good for the Canadiens, as he has been his old self, recording a 2-0 record with a 2.01 GAA and .920 save percentage since his return. With the Canadiens playing a game on Wednesday night against the New York Islanders (3-3-0), the Lightning could see either goaltender. Both of which would be a great test for this high octane Tampa Bay team.

Someone else to watch out for is new defenseman Shea Weber (5GP-1G-4A) and his hammer shot from the point. Weber looks as if he hasn’t missed a beat since the mega trade this offseason which saw the Nashville Predators swap him to Montreal for P.K. Subban (5GP-2G-3A). Weber is showing just how solid on the back end he is with a plus-8 rating. I expect this one to be a nail-biter for sure.

New Jersey Devils (2-2-1)

Where: Prudential Center

When: Saturday, October 29th – 7:00PM

Where to watch: Sun Sports

The Lightning go into the Prudential Center on Saturday night against a New Jersey team eager to get revenge from their 3-2 loss in Tampa on October 15th. With their fans behind them, the Devils will look to come out strong in front of their home crowd. The main struggle New Jersey faces is their inability to produce much offense at the moment. With no players over three points so far season, they once again find themselves in last place in the NHL in goals scored.

However, they’ve managed to balance out the lack of scoring by managing to keep the puck out of their net, as they have only let in 9 goals this season, tied with Montreal for the fewest allowed in the league. A lot of this is due to the play of stellar goaltender Cory Schneider (2-2-1, 1.80 GAA, .943 save percentage). The best chance for the Lightning is to get on Schneider early and often and not let the Devils lure them into their quicksand style of hockey.

New York Rangers (4-2-0)

Where: Madison Square Garden

When: Sunday, October 30th – 7:00PM

Where to watch: Sun Sports

The last leg of the week will be a contest in New York against the Rangers during the second half of a back-to-back. The Rangers have had a decent start to the year and are coming off wins against Washington (3-1-0) and Arizona (1-4-0). Before they play the Lightning, they will be facing Boston (3-2-0) on Wednesday night and Carolina (1-2-2) on Friday.

The Rangers and Bolts have had many great matchups over the last two years, with plenty of fodder for great drama. Last year they won 2 out of 3 games against us and kept those to low scoring contest. No doubt frustrated at the exit out of the Stanley Cup Finals given to them by the Bolts the year before. Every time these teams match up, it feels like a primetime event. Keep a lookout for Ranger forwards as they have accumulated 22 goals in the early portion of this season. They definitely like to spread the opportunities around, with no one over three goals on the team, and they are an assist away from leading the NHL in that category. I look at this as the Lightning’s greatest challenge of the season up to this point.

 

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