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Game Preview #26 - Will Lightning Strike Twice?

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The Lightning came into Nationwide and embarrassed the Blue Jackets last month. Will history repeat itself in the Bay Area tonight?

Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports

Columbus Blue Jackets at Tampa Bay Lightning

December 6, 2014 - 7:00 PM EST
Amalie Arena - Tampa, Florida Carolina
Radio - WWCD 102.5 - TV - Fox Sports Ohio
Opponent's Blog: Raw Charge

First and foremost, I have to ask the rhetorical question: if the Jackets play a game on the road, and nobody in Columbus watches it, does it actually happen? I suspect most of you will be watching a certain football game this evening, so perhaps it's not a bad thing that the Jackets are playing the best team in the league at the same time. I mean, if it's like that last game with Tampa, will you be sad to have missed it? I'm not even an OSU fan, and I'm pretty sure I'll be watching more of their football game than this hockey game.

As bad as Columbus has been, in the last 11 games since playing the Lightning, they are a modest 4-6-1, which, compared to the rest of the season, isn't half bad. That said, that last game... oh man, that first period still gives me nightmares. I mean, damn, man. Damn. That said, Bobrovsky, man. Bobrovsky. He was nowhere to be found that last time, and in his last two games he's stopped 76 of 80 shots (.950 sv%). So, there's that.

The flip side of that stat, however, is that the Jackets gave up 80 frickin' shots to Florida in two games, including 55 on Thursday. !!!!! The Lightning are a completely different offensive animal, so if that level of shots happened again, safe to say Columbus is giving up more than three goals and not walking away with a win in the skills competition.

To that end, Todd Richards has made some changes, most notably the return of Tim Erixon. That, however, is the one move that makes sense. These lines... I really don't even know what to say. Boone Jenner and Kerby Rychel played very, very well together. So, it only makes sense to break them up. Nick Foligno is your best goal scorer. So, it only makes sense to move him to center and neuter some of his offensive game. I've no idea what Ryan Johansen has done to earn a spot in the doghouse, but he's clearly there.

I've been not so much an HCTR defender or apologist, but more just a "live and let live" kind of attitude. That said, some of these changes, to me, are bordering on indefensible. They make almost no sense. Granted, I don't see what they see, but at first glance I'm left with a hearty WTF feeling.

So, there's that. Here comes the train...

Projected Lineups

Columbus Blue Jackets
(8-15-2, 18 Points; 8th division, 16th conference)

Scott Hartnell Nick Foligno Brian Gibbons
Kerby Rychel Ryan Johansen Jack Skille
Matt Calvert Boone Jenner Cam Atkinson
Corey Tropp Michael Chaput Jared Boll
Jordan Leopold Dalton Prout
Jack Johnson David Savard
Tim Erixon James Wisniewski
Sergei Bobrovsky
Curtis McElhinney

Tampa Bay Lightning
(18-6-3, 39 Points; 1st Division, 1st Conference)

Alex Killorn Steven Stamkos Ryan Callahan
Ondrej Palat Tyler Johnson Nikita Kucherov
Cedric Paquette Valtteri Filppula Brett Connolly
Jonathan Drouin Brian Boyle Brenden Morrow
Victor Hedman Anton Stralman
Jason Garrison Andrej Sustr
Matthew Carle Radko Gudas
Ben Bishop
Evgeni Nabokov

Season Series

11/08/14 - Tampa Bay 7 at Columbus 4
12/06/14 - Columbus at Tampa Bay
01/31/15 - Columbus at Tampa Bay

Head to Head Stats

Tampa Bay Columbus
3.56 (1) GPG 2.28 (26)
2.44 (9) GAPG 3.44 (29)
23.2% (5) PP% 21.7% (8)
80.7% (15) PK% 75.8% (25)
Steven Stamkos, 16 G leader Nick Foligno, 11
Tyler Johnson, 20 A leader Ryan Johansen, 16
Steven Stamkos, 32 Pts leader Ryan Johansen, 25
Radko Gudas, 32 PIM leader Jared Boll, 42
11-2-1 Home/Road 4-7-1
7-2-1 Last 10 4-5-1
12/04 vs. Buffalo, W 5-0 Last Game 12/04 @ Florida, W 4-3 (SO)