Game 25: Rangers vs. LightningDecember 8, 2011, by
Standings: Tampa Bay (11-14-2), Rangers (15-6-3)
Leading Scorer: Steven Stamkos (16-14-30)
Goaltender: Dwayne Roloson (3.55 GAA, .890 SV%)
Henrik Lundqvist gets the start tonight.
Preview: Tampa Bay, the innovators of the 1-3-1 forecheck are an extremely dangerous team, but they will be without Martin St. Louis tonight, as he took a puck to the face during practice this morning. So the Lightning will be without one of their most dangerous weapons, and will still have issues with goaltending, as seen last time these two faced off. The Rangers played a subpar game, but didn’t give up and won 4-2.
To beat the 1-3-1, the Rangers will need to play a dump and chase style of game –their specialty. Get the puck deep, get back to it, and cycle the puck around until they can generate scoring chances. That’s how the Lightning get beat. They are also not great defending in their own zone.
Tampa Bay will be looking for revenge, after losing the last meeting between these two teams. The Rangers are without two of their top four defensemen, which is a dangerous thought considering what Stamkos can do. It wouldn’t shock me for this game to turn into a shootout, which heavily favors the more skilled Lightning team.
Suit’s Take: Tampa’s 1-3-1 is generally employed late in the period or when they are protecting a lead. It will be paramount for the Rangers to get an early lead, forcing the Lightning to abandon their trap and open up.
Tampa is terrible at paying attention to the weakside of the ice. The old saying “keep your head on a swivel” seems to go in one ear and out the other. Though the Rangers don’t typically play an East/West type of game, it will be interesting to see if Torts makes any adjustments to capitalize on some of Tampa’s flaws.
The Lightning are top 5 in the league in goals against at home (30), but is dead last in the league on the road (57). Random.
Crazy Thought: Eminger steps in nicely for Sauer.
Opponent’s Blog: Lightning Hockey Blog
Game time tonight is 7pm on MSG, AM1050 and XM214.