The Blues get to work on their winter tans a little longer, sticking in Florida for a match tonight in Tampa Bay. Actually, the game is in Tampa; if the game was in Tampa Bay, they'd all have to wear snorkels. The game will be tough enough as it is; while the Panthers are cellar dwellers, the Lightning are 2nd in the
Flortheast Atlantic Flortheast Division. This is definitely the tougher test of the two games in the Sunshine State. While the local fans might not be as enthusiastic for these cross-conference games, the Blues cannot disregard the 2 points that are up for grabs tonight.
Line-up changes to note:
The Lightning are off to a good start this season, 9-4-0 so far this year. Granted, it's still early in the season and 4 of those games were against the Buffalo Sabres and the Florida Panthers. While the "Fenwick Close" stat suggests that they aren't always sharp possession-wise, you'd be fooling yourself to dismiss the Bolts. They are certainly making their shots count; the Bolts are averaging 3.10 goals per game (half a goal behind the Blues). They are also scoring on 22.6 % of their power plays. While I have my doubts about their blueline, they have enjoyed some outstanding goaltending. St Louis' own Ben Bishop is currently their starter, boasting an 8-2-0 record and a 2.17 GAA / .924 Sv% stat line. Just last night Ben shut out the Hurricanes, stopping all 31 shots against. The backup is Anders Lindback (3.48 GAA / .864 Sv%) who has gone 1-2-0 in 4 appearances so far. I don't see who'll be starting tonight... but if I had a crystal ball, I bet it'd say Big Ben.
Scoring-wise, the team is led in points and goals by some guy named Steven Stamkos (10G / 9 A), which puts him in 2nd place in the league for goals and points. I don't know who has scored more goals than that, but he must be pretty damn good. OH, RIGHT. The supporting cast includes Martin St. Louis, who is next on the team leaders list with 7 goals and 16 total points, and noted Newfie Teddy Purcell with 4 goals and 9 total points. Some other names that you'll find familiar:
Captain Mister Roboto Eric Brewer is still with the Bolts, as is B.J. Crombeen. The Beej ruled the league in 5-minute majors last year, which must cause some sort of cognitive dissonance for anti-fighting advocate GM Steve Yzerman.
Final Verse: Another early game, as the puck drops at 6:00 PM St Louis time. The TV broadcast is on Fox Sports MW, and the radio call will be on the mighty KMOX 1120 AM. The Game Day Thread should drop shortly before then. Until then, gather here and celebrate Coach Hitch breaking in to the Top 10 NHL Winningest Coaches list. Also, enjoy a video version of one of my favorite mash-ups:
feelgood roboto (via mistahpok)