Game 49 Preview: Ride the Lightning

Columbus Blue Jackets at Tampa Bay Lightning

January 24, 2012 - 7:30pm EST
Tampa Bay Times Forum - Tampa, Florida
Radio - WBNS FM 97.1 - TV - Fox Sports Ohio
Opponents Blog: Raw Charge

We can't go to Florida... thats America's wang!
--Homer J. Simpson

For real. So, the Jackets finish up the "first half" tonight in Tampa Bay, against a Lightning team that has hugely disappointed after coming within a period of making the Cup Finals last season. Last year's savior Dwayne Roloson has been the culprit this year, posting THE WORST goaltending numbers in the league to this point.

The Lightning have won three in a row, but are probably as banged up as the Jackets. Missing tonight are: D Victor Hedman (concussion), D Mattias Ohlund (knee), D Marc-Andre Bergeron (upper body), C Dana Tyrell (lower body), LW Ryan Malone (upper body), RW Ryan Shannon (knee), RW Adam Hall (arm), LW J.T. Wyman (upper body), and C Tom Pyatt (lower body).

For Columbus, R.J. Umberger is back, and Tomas Kubalik is headed back to Springfield because of it. That means RyJo should be back in tonight. Hard to hate on Kubalik's performance, which is good for next season and beyond.

OK, so this game should be winnable for Columbus if they play as hard as they've been playing. That said, the Lightning are on a three-game winning streak, and are much better at home than on the road; a win for them would be a season-high four game winning streak. I guess what I'm saying is: it's a toss-up. Is Columbus already checked out for the All-Star Break, or can they muster up one more solid effort?

Projected Lineups

Columbus Blue Jackets
(13-29-6, 32 Points; 5th division, 15th conference)

Vinny Prospal Antoine Vermette Rick Nash
R.J. Umberger Derick Brassard Ryan Johansen
Ryan Russell Samuel Pahlsson Derek Dorsett
Colton Gillies Derek MacKenzie Jared Boll
Fedor Tyutin Brett Lebda
Marc Methot John Moore
Grant Clitsome Aaron Johnson
Curtis Sanford
Steve Mason

Tampa Bay Lightning
(20-23-4, 44 Points; 5th Division, 13th Conference)

Steve Downie Steven Stamkos Teddy Purcell
??? Vincent Lecavalier Martin St. Louis
Brett Connolly Dominic Moore Pierre-Cedric Labrie
Mike Angelidis Nate Thompson Trevor Smith
Pavel Kubina Eric Brewer
Matt Gilroy Brett Clark
Bruno Gervais Evan Oberg
Mathieu Garon
Dwayne Roloson

Season Series

12/17/11 - Tampa Bay 3 at Columbus 2 - RECAP
01/24/12 - Columbus at Tampa Bay

Head to Head

Tampa Bay Columbus
2.77 (10) GPG 2.29 (28)
3.40 (30) GAPG 3.21 (29)
13.3% (28) PP% 14.8% (22)
79.6% (25) PK% 76.2% (29)
Steven Stamkos, 32 G leader Rick Nash, 17
Martin St. Louis, 30 A leader Vinny Prospal, 21
Steven Stamkos, 52 Pts leader Rick Nash, 33
Steve Downie, 111 PIM leader Derek Dorsett, 111
12-7-1 Road/Home 5-16-3
1/21 @ Phoenix, W 4-3 Last Game 1/23 @ Nashville, L 4-1
3-6-1 Last 10 3-6-1

Game Notes:

  • Lineup Issues - So sorry the Tampa lineup is messed up above. Their team is so banged up right now, that I couldn't sift through all of the pregrame stuff from various sites and piece together a lineup. So, take that one (especially the missing second line winger) with a grain of salt.
  • Special Teams - Wowzers, look at those numbers. Looks like tonight could be a story of the resistible force meeting the moveable object. The Jackets need to get their Power Play going. They need to get their PK going. The same can be said the Lightning. Each team probably is looking at the other team's numbers and thinking "TONIGHT IS THE NIGHT!" Which team will cash in? It should be noted that Tampa Bay is closer to 20% on the PP at home, which should give the Jackets a little pause.
  • Goaltending Suckfest - The backups are the stories for these teams. Steve Mason and Dwayne Roloson were supposed to be the starters. Their numbers? B-A-D bad. They are literally the 44th and 45th best goalies--out of 45! Mason gets the slight edge here. Here are the numbers: Mason: 3.43 gaa, 88.2 save % - Roloson: 3.65 gaa, 88.2 save %. For Tampa Bay, it's a familiar face in Mathieu Garon that is carrying the load for the 'Ning.
  • Back-to-Back - Today's stat from Mr. Rob Mixer is a doozy: "Columbus is 77-76-22 all-time in the first game of back-to-backs and is 58-93-24 all-time in the second game." Holy shit, man.

The Jackets need to remember there are still 60 minutes of hockey to play before their vacation. If they do that, I'll give them a puncher's chance tonight. If they're checked out--and/or allow themselves to be in awe of Stamkos, which they do from time to time--it could be a long night.

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