It's no secret that the Tampa Bay Lightning (18-23-4) have flopped so far this season. They're currently tied with Carolina for last place in the Eastern Conference with 40 points, putting them on pace for less than 80 points over the entire season. They finally snapped a seven-game losing stream by beating the Boston Bruins 5-3 on Tuesday night, and they will look to build some momentum tonight against the Dallas Stars.
Judging from their record, the Stars (24-19-2) won't be easy to topple. But if you look a bit closer, there are some reasons to believe tonight's game could be quite competitive. The Bolts and Stars both control the puck a similar amount (around 48%), so the game will hinge in large part on if the Bolts can keep shots from going in the net.
Okay, duh. That's an incredibly obvious statement, especially given that the Bolts are the worst team in the NHL at allowing even-strength goals. They live and die depending if their defense is having a good night, and more often than not recently, they've had bad nights. The Bolts will use both Mathieu Garon and Dwayne Roloson in net this weekend, as they face Phoenix on Saturday night, and both games will be winnable depending which version of the keepers show up.
In the big picture, wins don't mean anything to the Lightning right now. They are in no position to make a run at the playoffs, and losing more gets them a better draft pick next season. Wins are fun, though, and provide hope for the future, so it's a win-win situation for Bolts fans. Win or lose, there's something to be somewhat content about.
Or at least, that's what I'm telling myself.
Game Time: 8:30pm EST
Location: American Airlines Center, Dallas, Texas
Coverage: Sun Sports, FS-SW