The Hockey Gods were with the Tampa Bay Lightning on Friday night. Both the Florida Panthers and Winnipeg Jets failed to pick up much needed victories. If everything goes right for the Bolts tonight, they could go to bed Saturday sitting only one point back of 8th place in the Eastern Conference. On top of a Bolts win, the Capitals and Sabres would both have to lose. Is it possible? Absolutely. The Capitals are taking on the tough Bruins and the Sabres are taking on the feisty Ottawa Senators. This night could be a good one for your Tampa Bay Lightning. However, none of that matters if the Bolts do not manage to pick up two points in their tilt against the Carolina Hurricanes. Let’s get to some pre-game notes and Mike’s Three Keys to the Game.
* The Lightning and Hurricanes are in action for the second time in seven days. These two teams are familiar with each other; it should be a great game. Last time around, the Lightning came back from a deficit in epic fashion to win the game 4-3 in OT. Steven Stamkos was credited with the winner in that one and I don’t expect anything less tonight. Simply put, the kid is on a tear. Finally, he is started to get some of the respect he deserves. Richard Cloutier, this message is for you in response to your latest blog: Jordan Eberle and Steven Stamkos aren’t even on the same level. To say that Eberle is comparable is, to be frank, a joke.
* It is worth mentioning that Mike Green was suspended three games for his hit on Lightning forward Brett Connolly. In the last blog, I mentioned that I didn’t plan on sounding off no matter what the outcome was. Sorry, I was wrong. That suspension is an absolute embarrassment. Mike Green had no reason to target Connolly on the play as he was already being pressured by Orlov. Green made no attempt to go for the puck; he was looking directly at Connolly’s head the entire time. For the NHL to dish out a measly three game suspension is brutal. Secondly, how does a play that warrants a three game suspension not warrant a penalty in game? Absolutely brutal.
* If Teddy Purcell notches a point in tonight’s tilt, it will be his 12th straight game with at least one point. That point streak would tie him for the longest one this season with the likes of Tavares and Eric Staal. That’s some pretty select company for the guy to be linked with. There’s not one reason to believe that Teddy’s streak will be broken tonight. He has been on such a tear as of late. How does a guy with so much skill, determination and leadership ability get jettisoned from the Los Angeles Kings? It really doesn’t matter anymore. Teddy is a great asset to the Lightning organization.
* It should be assumed that Dustin Tokarski will be getting his second NHL start tonight. That said, he did suffer from some dehydration issues last game that could play an effect. Hopefully he’s alright and good to go for the ‘Canes tilt. He was absolutely brilliant in his first NHL start. How this guy has been hiding in the minors all year is beyond me. Thanks for the call-up, Steve.
Mike’s Three Keys to the Game
1) Don’t Get Caught Scoreboard Watching
The Bolts can’t get caught worrying about what’s going on around the league. Even though some games will have an impact on their situation, the Bolts must stay focused on beating the Carolina Hurricanes. Get the two points and everything else will sort itself out. If the Tampa Bay Lightning can focus on winning games, and not worrying about other teams losing games, there’s a great chance that we see playoff hockey in the Bay area.
2) Don’t Leave Tokarski Out to Dry
He’s just a kid, folks. Last game, in the third period, the Bolts were absolutely dreadful. Had it not been for the young netminder, the Bolts would have found themselves headed back to Tampa without a single point. This team cannot sit back and let the Hurricanes generate chances. It’s so important that the Bolts use their speed and generate pressure in all zones. Puck possession is so key against the Hurricanes. If the Bolts keep their feet moving, there is a great chance to take home two points here.
3) Get the Home Stand Started on the Right Foot
There’s no better feeling right now than looking at the Bolts home record and noting that we are about to start a seven game home stand. However, momentum is everything in the NHL and it all starts tonight. Let’s get this home stand off on the right foot with a great performance. Dominate the Canes, get the fans into the game and show the NHL that this group really does mean business. It’s game time.
Thanks so much for reading!
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