March 17 2014 11:28AM
The Tampa Bay Lightning are using Monday night's game against the Vancouver Canucks as an opportunity to celebrate the 10 year anniversary of that time they beat the Calgary Flames to win the Stanley Cup.
Over a handful of members from that squad are expected to be there - including luminaries such as Jassen Cullimore, Ben Clymer, Nolan Pratt, and Tim Taylor - and I'm sure it'll be a big ol' party. Lots of thought was put into this event, and it has been in the works for many a month now.
I'd imagine that the organization was working under the assumption that both John Tortorella and Marty St.Louis - two of the most important pieces of that championship team - would be in the building for the festivities. St.Louis is gone, but it really could've been even more awkward had the Canucks axed their coach amidst all of the rumblings that they were mulling such a decision over as recently as a week ago now.
Regardless, there's a cruel irony here, what with the Vancouver Canucks of all teams being the ones in the building for the night in which the Lightning give away these replica rings to all of their fans. I know what Brad Marchand would do with one of those..
Puck Drop: 4:30 PM PST
TV: Rogers Sportsnet Pacific
As I've highlighted above, it appears that Alex Edler and Kevin Bieksa will in fact, once again, be paired up on the back-end. Thomas Drance's set of tweets which were featured near the end of yesterday's game recap are a very valid reason why that partnership is a terrible idea, as are the countless instances of horrid plays we've seen with both guys out on the ice at the same time. Yet, John Tortorella seems steadfast in his belief that they should continue playing together, for whatever reason.
Meanwhile, I was fully expecting to be writing about Jacob Markstrom's first start as a Canuck in this preview, but that's not the case. Eddie Lack is back between the pipes for the 11th straight game. When Tortorella said that Markstrom "wasn't ready" last Monday following the 7-goal debacle against the Islanders, I figured he was referring to those circumstances specifically. But apparently he just meant in general, because he'd probably be in net tonight otherwise.
Forget the fact that Lack has stopped only .880 in his 7 games since the Roberto Luongo trade, and that injury scare he had for a second there yesterday. We have plenty of evidence to prove that going back to the same goalie two nights in a row is usually a move that doesn't work out well.
But forget all of that. I just want to see what Nicklas Jensen has up his sleeve next, and whether he'll be able to make some ground on Alex Burrows in the great goals race of 2014.
The Tampa Bay Lightning are a team that fascinates endlessly; for obvious reasons in the future, but also for the remainder of this season itself. Let's quickly brush-up on their timeline thus far this season:
-They start the season 11-4-1, surprising people, who still remain dubious, ultimately waiting for the other shoe to drop.
-Steven Stamkos, the team's best player, suffers a gruesome injury. After all of the shock and sadness passes, it's expected that the unfortunate injury will quickly expedite the inevitable fall-from-grace we've been waiting for.
-A handful of young players unexpectedly step their games up, and contribute. I write this article, singing their praises, beginning to think they're totally legit.
-While sitting comfortably in the 3-hole in the Eastern Conference playoff picture, they give in to the trade demands of the reigning Art Ross Trophy winner, and the guy who leads them in scoring this season, completing the almost unfathomable Captain-for-Captain swap.
-They get worse in the short-term by moving the best player in the deal, but still at the very least add a serviceable top-6 winger who ought to be extra useful come playoffs, and potentially two first-round picks to add onto their already elite organizational depth.
-Steven Stamkos comes back, is given the now-vacated "C". The team tries to carry on with their business, adjusting to the guys - not just regular guys I should say, but big-name ones who have clout - coming into and out of the lineup on the fly.
It has been a pretty remarkable handful of months in Tampa Bay. Their future is exceptionally bright, but given how wide open the Eastern Conference is after the Boston Bruins, I'd venture to guess that - despite the MSL trade - they're not going to be content sitting around waiting for their time to come. They've got a legitimate shot to make noise this year, as far as I see it.
The only way that's going to happen, though, is if Ben Bishop proves that this little stretch following the Olympics is just a small bump in the road that every goalie goes through over the course of a season, and not a red flag for some bigger concerns. He had a 1.98 GAA, .933 save percentage in 44 starts prior to the break vs. a 2.72 GAA, .906 save percentage in 8 starts since then.
It wouldn't hurt if Steven Stamkos got back to scoring goals in bunches, either.
|5v5 Corsi For %||51.8 (10th)||51.5 (11th)|
|5v5 GF/60||2.14 (19th)||2.36 (T-12th)|
|5v5 GA/60||2.20 (14th)||1.98 (5th)|
|5v5 PDO||99.6 (T-18th)||100.7 (T-8th)|
|5v4 GF/60||4.54 (28th)||5.82 (16th)|
|5v4 SF/60||58.2 (4th)||39.9 (30th)|
|4v5 GA/60||5.03 (5th)||6.91 (26th)|
|4v5 SA/60||40.6 (1st)||54.3 (20th)|