TAMPA, FL - The Tampa Bay Lightning's recent skid has seen them lose four straight, including three 2-1 games, Steve Downie to injury, and worst of all, their first place spot in the Southeastern Division to rival Washington. The recent schedule has been tough on the Bolts, with back to back road games againstt New Jersey and Boston, a pseudo road game at home againstt the Canadiens, and culminating with the heated Capitols game Monday night. Don't look for the schedule to get any easier tonight as the Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks (37-24-6) skate into the St. Pete Times Forum after winning nine of their last ten.
The Blackhawks are red hot right now, with their only loss in ten tries being their last game against the league worst Florida Panthers. If the Bolts are to right the ship tonight againstt the defending Cup champions, the Lightning must try and regain some of their form that allowed them to snap consecutive eight game win streaks of Pheonix and New Jersey during the long homestand. To do that they will need production from some of their struggling skaters.
Steven Stamkos has been somewhat absent of late, scoring only once in the past 12 games, and Simone Gagne has lit the lamp only once in 15 games. Injuries to Steve Downie and Ryan Malone have certainly hurt the offense but players need to step up to fill those holes both five on five and on special teams.
In addition to increasing goal scoring, the defense and netminding will have its hands full with Blackhawks stars Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane. Kane is riding a six game point streak, including two goals and five assists, while Toews is coming off snapping his nine game streak.
Tampa Bay are currently two points behind Washington in the Southeast Division. The Lightnign are 2-9-1 against Chicago in its last 14 tries, being outscored 14-4 in the last three. The Blackhawks are 3-0-1 in their last 5 games at the Forum.