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Tomorrow, the Lightning are in Montreal to take on the Canadiens. If our Bolts cannot get up for this one, I will officially consider this season a write-off. It’s always exciting for this group to play in Montreal. Few teams have the French connection that the Bolts do. Guys like Marty St. Louis and Vinny Lecavalier typically put in that extra little bit to play well in their home province. So as you can tell, I’m excited for this tilt.

It was only last week that the Bolts came back to defeat the Habs at the Tampa Bay Times Forum. The victory showed some great resiliency from the Bolts. They put in a great effort and came out with two points. Since that Habs win, part of three straight, the Lightning have struggled. With two straight regulation losses, you can bet that Guy Boucher will want to put two points up against the organization that watched him walk out its front door.

Montreal Canadiens: 15-18-7 for 37 Points
Tampa Bay Lightning: 17-19-3 for 37 Points

If you hadn’t already figured it out, the bolded note above should highlight the importance of this game. The Bolts and Habs are currently tied in points. If the Lightning want any shot at making the playoffs, they are going to have to start separating themselves from these “bottom feeding” teams before they become one. Here are some pre-game notes.

- The Lightning currently sit in 12th place in the East. It’s a position that they have pretty much cemented themselves into over the course of the last couple weeks. After the three straight wins, I thought they may have had a shot at 10th by the end of this stretch. That’s an impossibility. The Buffalo Sabres sit directly in front of the Bolts in the standings with 40 points and the same number of games played. That should REALLY make this a MUST WIN GAME. Also, lose this game and the Bolts will find themselves in 13th place.

- Despite playing a little better as of late, I still don’t know about this Canadiens group. They have a lot of nice pieces, but a lot of the key players aren’t performing. Lars Eller, coming off a superb 4 goal game, is a player to watch in this tilt. He could give the Lightning a tough time in the defensive end. Despite not putting up huge offensive numbers in Montreal, Eller is a great player. He plays with a lot of intelligence and underrated strength. Keep your eye on him,

- With injuries taking their toll on the Lightning, Brett Connolly will step right into the line-up after taking home bronze at the World Junior Championship. Despite not coming back to TB with gold, Connolly had a GREAT tournament. He was a dominant, physical force each and every game. His ability to create timely offense cannot be ignored. In a season or two, he should fit right into our top 6.

- Steven Stamkos looks to continue his hot streak tomorrow night. I want to get some responses from the readers here; is 60 goals unreasonable for Stammer this season? It would be something spectacular to witness. Thank goodness we got this guy signed over the summer. Imagine if one of the many trade rumors had come true. I shudder to think, folks!

- The last note I want to make about the game tomorrow is the Bolts road record. It’s time to improve it, simple as that. Now, sitting with a road record of 6-14-3, the Bolts have got to make something go right away from the TBTF. I don’t understand how a team can be so decent on home ice but so terrible on the road. Sure, there are a few differences, but the disparity is not this great.

Overall, I would put this game into the must win category. In fact, every game until playoff time is going to become “must win” if the Lightning don’t go on a little bit of a run shortly. The Canadiens will pose an interesting challenge for a lot of the Bolts. It’s always tough, yet exciting, to play in a hometown. Hopefully the Bolts keep their composure so we can see a great game.

The last note I want to make is with regards to the Blair Jones/Brendan Mikkelson trade pulled off by Steve Yzerman. Mikkelson is a depth defenseman who should be able to play with this group. What I really like about him is his size. Mikkelson is a winner at just about every level; it will be nice to have him in the room. Hopefully he fits in here and we see the development of a great defenseman. I’m a firm believer that talent doesn’t just disappear. He was the 31st overall pick in the 2005 draft. Perhaps he will be a late bloomer for us.

Thanks for reading and have a great day!

Follow me on Twitter: @michaelstuart93
Filed Under:   tampa   bay   lightning   montreal   canadiens   preview  
January 7, 2012 12:45 AM ET | Delete
Alittle disappointed we had to part with Blair Jones; Im so sick of Brett Clark, i wish there could be a way to ship him out of here. I know this sounds crazy but i wasnt sure signing Roloson was such a good idea in the off season and now i know i was right. Were we really to expect another great year from a 40yr old netminder? We really need some fire on this team; Also hope YMan can pull off a Harding deal.
January 7, 2012 1:17 AM ET | Delete
If only we could dump Ohlund, Clark, Bergeron and Kubina.
January 7, 2012 2:33 AM ET | Delete
I was the same as you, Artyukhin. The expectations on a 40 year old goalie were ridiculously high. Even when the trade was made last year, I was a little skeptical.
January 7, 2012 6:53 AM ET | Delete
If the Bolts could put in 1/2 the effort you put in your blogs we would be in good shape. If you mail it in don't quit writing! As far as Stammer goes I think 60 possable as long as he doesn't mail it in as well, in my mind the kid has to much pride to do that. Only thing that could stop him form 60 let alone 50, if he starts pressing to much like he did last year. If the team is struggling,which they are, he will try to make it happen which causes him issues at times.
January 7, 2012 7:01 AM ET | Delete
As far as tonigt i agree MUST WIN! I have a feeling the Habs are going to want some revenge from blowing the lead the last time we faced them. We do have some success against Price plus Vinny and Marty allways put on a show up there. Going back to trades wouldn't be nice to see Iggy and Vinny on line? I know i'm dreaming and I'm sure he would rather go to a contender if he were to go anywhere. Still nice to have hopes once and a while
January 7, 2012 12:55 PM ET | Delete
I am just hoping for a good showing.
January 7, 2012 1:19 PM ET | Delete
Oomroy: Thank you very much for your support. I appreciate the kind words. There is no way I am going to give up writing (the blogs just may become a little more cynical aha). Let's hope for a solid effort tonight. With that, we should win.
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Blog Archive

01 Lightning News and Notes to Start December
02 Why Bolts Must Get Into Bobby Ryan Trade Discussions
02 Breaking News: Lightning Make Minor Trade with Panthers
03 10 Bold Predictions for Rangers vs. Lightning Game
04 Lightning Lose to Rangers: My Prediction Round Up
06 Simply Embarassing: Lightning Drop 5th Straight to Islanders
08 Lightning Beat Rangers to End Losing Streak - Mixed Bag
10 The 1-3-1 Returns: Flyers Take on Bolts at Wells Fargo
11 Lightning Fall to Flyers: The Slot Looks Like a Drive-Thru
12 From Bad to Worse + Lightning Sign Miettinen
14 Lightning Talk: Defensemen to Target in Free Agent Frenzy
14 Scenario
15 Bolts Squeeze By Flames Thanks to Dominant Second Period
17 Lightning Should Make a Push for Shea Weber
18 Bolts Down Blue Jackets + Rumor Round-Up
20 Why the Lightning WILL make the Playoffs This Season
22 Lightning Embarrassed by Sharks in San Jose: U-G-L-Y
22 Tampa Bay Lightning: I Want Your Opinions
23 Bolts vs. Avalanche: A Long-Winded Game Preview
24 Bolts Lose to Avalanche in Goalie Battle + Rumor Round-Up
25 Risky Business: Victor Hedman and Other Top-5 D-Men
26 Flyers vs. Bolts Shaping Up to be a Great Game -- Preview
27 Next 6 Games Vital for Lightning + My Predictions
27 Bryzgalov Shaky as Lightning Beat Up on Flyers
29 A Tale of Two Underperforming Teams: Bolts vs. Canadiens
29 A V for Vinny, a V for Victory: Bolts Down Habs 4-3
30 Bolts/Canes Preview + HB Hotstove Response + Rumor Update
31 Lightning Defeat 'Canes 5-2 on Phil Esposito Night