2012-2013 Records: Tampa (6-1-0), Rangers (3-4-0)
NYR Leading Scorer: Marian Gaborik (5-3-8)
TBL Leading Scorer: Steve Stamkos (5-9-14)
NYR Goaltender: Martin Biron (1 GP, 1.95 GAA, .95 SV%)
TBL Goaltender: Mathieu Garon (1 GP, 1.00 GAA, .972 SV%)
Rick Nash-Brad Richards-Marian Gaborik
Carl Hagelin-Derek Stepan-Taylor Pyatt
Jeff Halpern-Brian Boyle-Arron Asham
Stu Bickel-Benn Ferriero-Mike Rupp
Ryan McDonagh-Dan Girardi
Marc Staal-Michael Del Zotto
Matt Gilroy-Anton Stralman
Probable Scratches/Injuries: Mike Sauer (concussion), Chris Kreider (ankle), Steve Eminger (healthy), Ryan Callahan (shoulder)
Preview: The Lightning are really firing on all cylinders right now. They are not just winning games. They are beating teams with conviction. In 7 games, they’ve only once failed to score 4+ goals.
And it’s not just the big three (Stamkos, Lecavalier, St. Louis) that are finding twine. Tampa is also getting scoring from their defense and their unheralded secondary forwards like the diminutive Cory Conacher (5’8 175 lb ). An undrafted player out of Canisius College (um where?), Cory is having a breakout rookie campaign with 12 points in 7 games.
As for their systems, Tampa is more than “just another trap team”. Guy Boucher has the Lightning running a 1-3-1 forecheck. Contrary to what the media will tell you, the 1-3-1 can be an aggressive forecheck or a neutral zone trap depending on the puck’s location. However, unlike other trap teams, Boucher also gives his defensemen free reign to join the rush. So they are not a traditional “defense first” team.
Overall, Tampa just feasts on transition rushes. The Rangers are really going to have to elevate their game tonight. Everyone on this roster will have a tough matchup, so it will be imperative that they stay disciplined and manage the puck well.
Fun Fact: Tampa is home to the most strip clubs per square mile.
Crazy Thought: More power play goals would be nice.
Opposition Blog: Bolts By The Bay