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First and foremost I’d just like to apologize for getting this up a little late. It’s been a busy couple of days with travel and whatnot. That said, I’m here with the Bolts game preview for tonight’s tilt at the Tampa Bay Times Forum against the Western Conference powerhouse, Vancouver Canucks. Also in this blog I’ll be addressing a Guy Boucher question brought up in my last blog’s comment section. Without further ado, let’s get to the preview.

The Vancouver Canucks get into Tampa coming off an emotional game in Boston and a letdown game in Florida. The question all Bolts fans have to be asking is which Canucks team we will be seeing tonight. Will it be the emotional, hardworking, battling team that took on the Bruins? Or will it be the team that struggled to find any consistency in the game against Florida? Vancouver captain, Henrik Sedin, had this to say about the loss in Florida:

"I think we came out really strong," said Canucks captain Henrik Sedin, "but if you're off 3 or 4 percent in a League like this, against a team that's surprising a lot of guys this year, you need to play well." (canucks.com)

He’s absolutely right; a team can’t be off by much in this league if they want to take home two points. Henrik’s words actually resonate with me as a Bolts fan. From night to night, our team really hasn’t shown any measure of consistency. The Bolts need to start playing well, or just start to maybe throw some games in an attempt to get a high draft pick. I would really like to hear Steve Yzerman come out and tell fans whether or not the playoffs is a goal for this season. What’s this team’s forecast from the management side of things?

The Canucks are a high scoring team that doesn’t allow a lot of goals. With Dwayne Roloson in net, that could spell disaster for the Lightning. This group from Vancouver has so much top end talent. Even with Hedman in, would you really expect our defense to hold off the Sedins and Kesler? I wouldn’t. For that reason, it’s imperative that Guy Boucher utilizes the 1-3-1 tonight. In fact, I would go as far to say that his game plan should be to use a 0-4-1. If you forecheck against the Canucks, you create openings for them. Take away their opportunities, and they will get frustrated.

For those of you who thought that this blog was going to be a “let’s jump on the hating the Canucks bandwagon” sort of thing, it’s not. I have the utmost respect for Mike Gillis, Alain Vigneault and that entire organization. In my opinion, the Sedins are the classiest superstars in the league. The stuff they put up with on a nightly basis is more than most people will see over the course of a career. Each and every night they are targeted mentally, physically and emotionally yet they manage to put up 100+ points per season. That’s pretty special.

While I don’t expect the Lightning to win tonight’s game, I wouldn’t count them out. This game will be the Canucks’ third game in four nights on a lengthy Eastern road trip. They are bound to be tired. After giving up every ounce of energy to beat the Bruins, you can bet that they just want to get home. This could be a great opportunity for Tampa to just play a patient, defensive game through the first two periods. Opportunities will present themselves as the game goes on.

If it’s any measure of comfort, the last time these two teams took on each other, the Bolts did come out on top with a 5-4 score. That was one of the most entertaining games I’ve seen in a long, long time. So, while we could see a defensive stalemate (which I believe is the better option if victory is the goal), there is also a chance that we might see an exciting end to end game with a lot of top end talent.

I’m not sure you will see a game (other than the all-star game) with more top end talent than this one. It should be a great one no matter what the outcome.

So there’s my little game preview. It’s tough to really pull out hard stats and give them to you just because the Canucks have been so good and the Lightning have been so inconsistent. I thought I would paint a picture of my predicted game. Defense is the key to beating the Canucks. Be patient and physical and the opportunities will arise.

Now, onto the little Guy Boucher note. It was brought up in my last comment section that Guy Boucher may or may not have an out-clause in his contract with the Lightning to go back and coach the Montreal Canadiens. With their coaching controversy, it’s not a surprise that Boucher’s name has been brought up. That said, I was a little skeptical of this whole thing. Why would the Lightning offer a rookie coach an out-clause? Fair to say, I didn’t believe it.

It was then that I did some research and found out that Jeff Rimer of the Columbus Blue Jackets TV crew reported that this is the case. Now, when a guy comes out on TV and says something this big, there has to be some credibility to it. There is no way that he puts his reputation on the line for a rumor. So while I’m not totally sold, where there’s smoke, there is fire. It will be interesting to see how this plays out over the next couple of months, especially if the Bolts continue to struggle.

Thanks for reading and enjoy the game tonight! I’ll have my game re-cap up shortly afterwards.

Follow me on Twitter: @michaelstuart93
Filed Under:   tampa   bay   lightning   guy   boucher   vancouver   canucks  
January 10, 2012 5:40 PM ET | Delete
When i was in Columbus for the Bolts game in December when Rimer made the comment about Boucher, I asked the locals about him and they claimed the guy is an idiot and says more garbage then truth. The Beatwriters there are another story, nothing but high praises for them. Wish we had that kind of coverage down here, hearing about the Bucs and Rays gets old when its hockey season now.
January 10, 2012 5:50 PM ET | Delete
Ah alright, thanks for the back ground Oomroy! Yeah I'd love to see better coverage. As informal as this is here, that's what I'm trying to do.
January 10, 2012 7:57 PM ET | Delete
Fantastic blog, Michael–well researched, well written, and with great insight. You should have your own blog on the main page.
January 10, 2012 8:04 PM ET | Delete
Fosco, your kind words mean a lot to me. Thank you very much for the support!
January 10, 2012 8:41 PM ET | Delete
Great work.
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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