WHEN: October 20th 7:30 P.M. EDT
WHERE: St. Pete Times Forum Tampa, Fl
MEDIA: Sun Sports
The Lightning have one win on the fresh 2011-2012 season and although its early on in an 82 game season, Tampa Bay is not satisfied. The Lightning have lost six of its first seven games and there is not one thing to blame. Goaltending has been shaky, Dwayne Roloson has allowed a league-high 17 goals in his first four starts, letting in seven goals on Monday against the Panthers. His dismal 5.09 goals against average is the worst in the NHL. It doesn't end there though. Defensive zone coverage has been poor and there has been a lack of discipline with the amount of penalties that are being called against them. Tampa Bay's penalty-kill has been inept as of late, and has given up seven power play goals in 15 chances in two games. They had nine penalties in the 7-4 loss to the Panthers on Monday and five of those resulted in goals.
There's no doubt the Lightning want to get on track and string together a few wins but they'll have to try and do it against an Islander team that beat them 5-1 last week. Roloson was in net for that game, allowing five goals on 18 shots before getting replaced by Mathieu Garon. Garon stopped all 16 shots he faced in that game. Guy Boucher has already said he is going to give Roloson one or two games to regroup, giving Garon the start on Thursday. Garon had 36 saves in his last effort, a 3-2 loss to the Florida Panthers on Saturday and he has a 2.28 goals against average and .938 save percentage in three games played.
Some more bad news for the Lightning is that defensemen Eric Brewer, one of the team's top defensemen, is being listed as day-to-day and no one with the Lightning organization is sure how he got injured. Brewer has been on the Lightning's top-line, being paired with Victor Hedman. Brewer had an MRI on Wednesday and according to the Saint Pete Times, he will be available tonight. If Brewer were to sit out, it would not be a good situation for a Lightning defense if that is already had its share of struggles this season.
The Lightning have been out scored 23-13 in the 0-3-2 skid and is 1 for 17 on the man advantage in the last five games.
While the Lightning are trying to avoid a sixth consecutive loss, the Islanders are looking for their fourth consecutive win, which would match the team's longest winning streak, dating back to last season. John Tavares, the first overall pick in 2009, has already been lighting up the lamp this season, including a four point night last week against Tampa (two goals and two assists). Tavares had another four point night in Saturday's win over the New York Rangers, netting his third career hat-trick. He has five goals and three points in four games, which will keep the Lightning's defense busy all night.
The Islanders have won five of its last six against the Lightning, with Tavares scoring four goals and five assists in those games.
No one knows who will start in net for New York as of yet. Al Montoya played in the Islanders' first three games, including a 34 save effort in last weeks game against Tampa Bay. The Islander's relied on Evgeni Nabokov in their last game, making 29 saves to beat the Rangers.
Prediction: Since Garon is getting the start, I will have to say that the Lightning find a way to win this one. It won't be an easy one though. Lightning: 5 Islanders: 3