For the first time in two weeks the Tampa Bay Lightning will play on home ice tonight after their six game road trip as they take on the 6-0-1 Colorado Avalanche.
After finishing the road trip with a 4-2-1 record and two tough division games in Montreal and Boston, the Lightning continue to face some of the best teams in the NHL over the next week.
After tonight’s game against Colorado, the Lightning will face Pittsburgh, and Nashville all at home over the next week.
The Lightning started the road trip with a loss in Sunrise against the Panthers and then followed that up the next night with their worst performance of the season in a loss to Carolina in which the Lightning only managed 13 shots on goal.
The Lightning played their most complete game of the season four nights later in Toronto as they handles the Leafs 7-3. The Lightning out muscled the Leafs and the special teams play was decent as the Lightning went 2/3 on the power play and were 1/2 on the penalty kill.
The Lightning ended the trip with a shootout win in Boston 4-3 but the special teams play was a disgrace as they allowed the Bruins to score all three of their goals on the penalty kill, while the Lightning went 0/3 on the power play.
For all the team speed that the Lightning possess, it seems that they have trouble getting that untracked on the power play.
The power play seemed slow to develop in the offensive zone, and again two many passes are being attempted to try to get that perfect shot. The Lightning just have to shoot the damn puck.
Good things will happen when you shoot the puck.
The Lightning struggled last season on the penalty kill and Jon Cooper made fixing special teams play, and especially the penalty kill a priority.
That has not happened yet and it looks as if special teams play will be a work in progress all season.
The Lightning are currently ranked 27th in the league in the penalty kill at 67.8% while the power play is converting at 26.3%.
Kevin Shattenkirk has been the biggest surprise on the team. Not only has Shattenkirk been a big help to the blue line, but he has also contributed offensively as he is tied with Steven Stamkos for the team lead with four goals and has a total of five points.
Shattenkirk has been paired with Ryan McDonagh this season on the blue line.
The line of Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov, and Braydon Point has played well to start the season. This line has combined for ten goals and 22 points so start the season.
The Lightning will go up against another top line tonight when they face Gabriel Landeskog, Nathan MacKinnon, and Mikko Rantanen of the Avalanche.
This line has propelled the Avalanche to the number two power play unit in the league as they are clicking at 45.5%.
This game will be another good test for the Lightning as they get another chance to see how they measure up against a Stanley Cup contender from the Western Conference.