Game 46 Preview: Tampa Bay Lightning @ Columbus Blue Jackets

Tampa Bay will begin a back-to-back road set against another the Columbus Blue Jackets, another club riding a mid-season surge that has it within striking distance of playoff contention in the wide-open Metropolitan Division.

The Lightning — narrowly trailing the Bruins and ahead of the Canadiens for the top spot in the Atlantic — rebounded from a tough loss to the Capitals last week by scoring early and often in Saturday’s victory over the Flyers. The process may have been sloppy and the difference may have been a combination of fortunate puck-luck in both ends of the ice and a poor outing from Steve Mason but the Bolts did respond well after allowing its initial two-goal lead to get cut in half and then after the Flyers managed to erase a second two-goal deficit.

Columbus, which came out on top of a rather low-event affair in the first meeting between the two clubs this season, has won, after doubling up the Jets on the strength of a four-goal second-period the other night, three-straight and seven of its last ten matches. The recent success has been fueled, mostly, by a stretch of improved even-strength possession play as well as a generous heap of puck-luck.

Still, the Blue Jackets are in a precarious position in the standings with a lot of teams to climb to beat out for a postseason berth be it via a divisional or wild-card seeding. It’s a situation you might be inclined to pin on the defense when analyzing the club’s performance with tunnel vision, looking at a sole metric that captures a relatively rare event. The offense isn’t particularly good but rather, it’s converted at a fairly high rate while managing a one of the league’s lowest totals as well as a below-average share and rate of shot attempts at evens and the power play results, to this point, are nearly identical.

Thus, Columbus has been essentially the same team it was, in terms of its process during the lockout-abbreviated campaign earlier this year. The key difference is the fact that the Blue Jackets have given up 11 more goals in 20 more shorthanded minutes at similar junctures. Maybe it is in fact a structural problem defensively or perhaps this is just a matter of Sergei Bobrovsky finding it difficult to replicate such lofty numbers.

NOTES

STANDINGS

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SEASON SERIES

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ACTIVE ROSTERS

LIGHTNING BLUE JACKETS
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STATPACK

RANKINGS

TEAM POSSESSION & SCORING RATES
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TEAM POSSESSION, SCORING & SHOOTING PERCENTAGES
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TOTALS

TEAM POSSESSION & SCORING
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GOALTENDING (ON-ICE)
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PLAYER SCORING
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RATES

TEAM POSSESSION & SCORING
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GOALTENDING (ON-ICE)
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PERCENTAGES

TEAM POSSESSION, SCORING & SHOOTING
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GOALTENDING (ON-ICE)
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Team stats cited from Extra Skater.

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