Game 32 Preview: Vinny's Night

Tampa Bay Lightning at Columbus Blue Jackets

December 17, 2011 - 7:00pm EST
Nationwide Arena - Columbus, Ohio
Radio: 97.1 WBNS-FM - TV: Fox Sports Ohio
Opponents Blog: Raw Charge
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As the team honors Vinny Prospal for playing in his 1000th NHL game earlier this season, it's only fitting that we play the Lightning, who saw the energetic forward suit up for just under half of those games in their former Black, Silver, and Blue. With both teams suffering from a lack of scoring and defensive headaches of late, I've no doubt that each sees this as a chance to put themselves back onto their feet.

It's also kind of funny how many "Almosts" are tied between these teams. Guy Boucher was "almost" the head coach here in Columbus. Reports are that Scott Howson was "almost" able to get Ryan Malone from the Penguins before going for R.J. Umberger instead. Dwayne Roloson had the infamous honor of being selected by the Jackets in the expansion draft and refusing to play in Columbus. There were rumors of Columbus pursuing Pavel Kubina while he was still a member of the Maple Leafs. And of course the rumored trades back in 2008 that would have brought Brad Richards to Columbus back when he was a member of the Lightning...

Almost, almost, almost.

It's time to stop the "almosts" in this town. Almost good enough to win. Almost competitive. Almost average. Almost a 60 minute game.

We're honoring an exceptional player tonight. He deserves this team to put up an exceptional effort for him.

Projected Lineups

Columbus Blue Jackets

(9-18-4, 22 Points; 5th division, 15th conference)

Vinny Prospal Jeff Carter Rick Nash
Antoine Vermette Derick Brassard Mark Letestu
R.J. Umberger Samuel Pahlsson
Derek Dorsett
Dane Byers
Derek MacKenzie
Jared Boll
Fedor Tyutin Nikita Nikitin
Marc Methot James Wisniewski
Grant Clitsome John Moore
Steve Mason
Curtis Sanford

Tampa Bay Lightning

(13-16-2, 28 Points; 4th Division, 13th Conference)

Steve Downie Steven Stamkos Ryan Malone
Tom Pyatt Vincent Lecavalier Dominic Moore
Ryan Shannon Blair Jones Teddy Purcell
Adam Hall Nate Thompson Dana Tyrell
Victor Hedman Eric Brewer
Pavel Kubina Brett Clark
Bruno Gervais Marc-Andre Bergeron
Mathieu Garon
Dwayne Rolosson

Season Series:

Dec. 17 - Lightning @ Jackets

Jan. 24 - Jackets @ Lightning

By The Numbers:

Scoring
TBL- 2.64 G/G (17th)
CBJ - 2.29 G/G (28th)

Defense
TBL- 3.32 GA/G (29th)
CBJ - 3.19 GA/G (25th)

Power Play
TBL- 15.7% (23rd)
CBJ - 12.8% (26th)

Penalty Kill
TBL- 81.2% (\19th)
CBJ - 75.2% (28th)

Game Notes:

  • If the projected lineups are accurate, fans will be overjoyed to see Derek Dorsett hit the ice tonight, but rather puzzled that Ryan Johansen will be watching from the pressbox. The young forward hasn't been hitting the scoresheet of late, and he's been in and out of the penalty box a fair bit. Letting him recharge actually strikes me as a decent move.
  • When Vinny suited up for the Flyers in March of 1997, your top 40 hits included Smash Mouth, Hanson, Shawn Colvin, Dave Matthews Band, The Wallflowers and Jock Jams.
  • For all the talk about the glory of Guy Boucher and Tampa's incredible run last season, they're just as mired in struggle as the Jackets this year - and goal tending has been a big part of the issue. The Lightning are 3-7 over their last 10 games, and Dwayne Roloson is looking less like a superhero and more like a 40 year old. Expect former Jacket Mathieu Garon to get the start tonight - and let's hope that guys like Nash and Umberger remember his soft spots from practice.
  • This is the first of two meetings between the clubs, and the team has historically matched up quite well against the Bolts. Let's start the series on the right foot.
  • Shutting down Steven Stamkos will go a long way towards securing a win. From the sound of things, Fedor Tyutin and Nikita Nikitin will be seeing a lot of ice time against #91, but the other question is if we rely on Sammy Pahlsson, or if Scott Arniel decides to go "power for power" as he did vs. Vancouver.
  • For all the talk about Jeff Carter's recent goal streak (and may it continue tonight!), James Wisniewski has quietly put together a streak of his own, with six points (all assists) in the last seven games.
  • The Lightning will be without all-star Martin St. Louis, who was injured in practice just over a week ago. That's a shame for Marty, who was on the verge of playing in his 500th straight game, but a possible advantage for the boys in Union Blue. We can't let that go unexploited.

I could break this thing down for another two hours, but it all comes down to one thing that Vinny himself said: "Well, we just keep doing the right things and score one more goal than the other guy."

Amen.

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