Game 27 Preview: Tampa Bay Lightning @ Columbus Blue Jackets

The Tampa Bay Lightning (16-9-1, 33 PTS), back to the road after playing well but coming up short against the Penguins last Friday, will face the Columbus Blue Jackets (10-14-3, 23 PTS), a club coming off a decisive loss to the Bruins on Saturday, tonight before returning home for a couple games.

The Bolts took the last meeting, which occurred a bit past the midpoint of the 2011-2012 season, as well as the previous two matches between the two clubs. The last Blue Jackets victory came during the 2009-2010 gamut.

After finishing dead last in the league standings in 2011-2012, Columbus surprised many — due almost entirely to a remarkable career year that won Sergei Bobrovsky the Vezina trophy — during the lockout-abbreviated season earlier this year and only narrowly missed returning to the postseason for the first time since 2009. Now a part of the Eastern Conference after the recent realignment, Columbus has struggled in the first third of this campaign and looks poised to continue its playoff drought.

Bobrovsky is nowhere near the lofty numbers he put up earlier this year (and provides the latest great example of significant year-to-year variance) but the problems are much deeper than the play of the Blue Jackets goalies: Columbus is still essentially the same very poor possession team it was last season when it managed the sixth-worst percentage of shot attempts for. The current squad is having trouble holding its own at even-strength, especially during score-close play. If the defensive side of things has wavered, the offense — not exactly a juggernaut before — is now anemic when not operating with the man-advantage.

It hasn’t helped that the Blue Jackets’ big free-agent splash, signing free-agent winger Nathan Horton, has yet to play a game for his new club after undergoing shoulder surgery in the off-season and the club, which has shot 7.0% on aggregate at even-strength, might benefit from some streaky shooting but without a significant uptick in the volume of its attempts, is it really going to matter much?

As for tonight, anything goes but the Lightning — riding, so far, career-best numbers from Ben Bishop (which might make the team a more dangerous version of last year’s Blue Jackets) — ought to be licking their chops at the chance to pile onto their opponent’s early season woes before playing host to the Senators and Jets, both of which have struggled to varying extent.

NOTES


Season Series


TIED 0-0
[table “77” not found /]


Rosters


LIGHTNING BLUE JACKETS
[table “74” not found /]
[table “74” not found /]


STATPACK

 

Team

TOI, POSSESSION & SCORING TOTALS
[table “75” not found /]
POSSESSION & SCORING RATES
[table “75” not found /]
POSSESSION, SCORING & SHOOTING PERCENTAGES
[table “75” not found /]

Special Teams

POWER PLAY
[table “80” not found /]
PENALTY KILL
[table “80” not found /]

Goaltending

ON-ICE TOTALS
[table “81” not found /]
ON-ICE RATES
[table “81” not found /]
ON-ICE PERCENTAGES
[table “81” not found /]

Scoring

LIGHTNING
[table “76” not found /]
BLUE JACKETS
[table “76” not found /]

Team stats cited from Extra Skater.

Leave a Reply