Tampa Bay Lightning at San Jose Sharks: conference contenders meet again
Can Bolts hinder the Sharks’ four-game win streak?
Time: 10:30 pm Eastern Time
Location: SAP Center
Opponent SBNation Site: Fear the Fin
The Tampa Bay Lightning continue their explosive start to the season against a San Jose team that has benefited from strong goaltending. Goalie Martin Jones received the NHL’s third star of the week recently and will get the nod against the Bolts. San Jose has had a few injuries on the blue-line within the last week and the Lightning will take what they can get against Jones. Jones has helped turn the Sharks’ slow start around.
The Sharks are sitting on a four-game winning streak, their most recent win coming against Anaheim. Now, Jones has let in only four goals in the last three games he’s started. This is a team that sits 21st in the league in goals per game. In order for the Lightning to show that they are not just an offensive powerhouse, they will need to invent high-danger ways to approach the crease, keep and hold possession, and lock down defensively.
At 11-2-2, its no secret that the Bolts are flying through this season, but it seems that with all good playing streaks are equally significant stretches of lackluster play. You saw it last year when the Columbus Blue Jackets won 16 in a row then subsequently struggled to close out the season.
The odd case of the Lightning, however, is that seldom does a team peak like this so early in the season. Can you call it peaking if it’s right out of the gates? Regardless, there will be an eventual fallout after all this good play, and how the Lightning handle it will really determine the caliber of team they can be.
The Sharks have been dominant both in shot share and expected goal share, meaning that they’ve controlled the game against their opposition so far this season. They’ve been unlucky in terms of shooting and therefore haven’t gotten quite the results they deserve. The Lightning meanwhile, have been the opposite. They’ve been just ok in terms of shot and xG share but have relied on their shooting talent to outscore their opponents.
Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov won’t keep shooting like they have to start the season, so in order to beat good teams, Tampa needs to find other ways to win games. Tonight is a chance to prove they can do that by pushing the pace and keeping the puck in the San Jose end with consistent breakouts, smart decisions in the neutral zone, and an aggressive forecheck.
Tampa Bay Lightning
Vladislav Namestnikov – Steven Stamkos – Nikita Kucherov
Ondrej Palat – Brayden Point – Yanni Gourde
Alex Killorn – Gabriel Dumont – JT Brown –
Chris Kunitz – Tyler Johnson – Ryan Callahan
Victor Hedman – Jake Dotchin
Braydon Coburn – Dan Girardi
(Slater Koekkoek – Andrej Sustr)
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