The Tampa Bay Lightning fresh off their 3-1 loss to the Anaheim Ducks will not have much time to hang their heads as the red hot Buffalo Sabres will be in town to take on the Lightning on Thursday night.
The Sabres are on a 10 game winning streak and it will take a strong effort to take down the Sabres. Buffalo is tied with Toronto for first place in the Eastern Conference with 36 points while the Lightning comes in with 35 points.
It‘s early in the season but this is a statement game as the Lightning and the Sabres along with Toronto look to be battling it out all season long for first place in the East.
The Sabres are one up on the Lightning as they beat the Lightning in Buffalo on November 13th which would be win No. 3 on their current win streak 2-1.
In the loss to the Ducks, the Lightning dominated periods of play in the game as they outshot the Ducks 35-22, but the Ducks were a much more bigger and physical team which the Lightning never matches up well with.
The other thing that stood out to me was the one to many passes the Lightning made at times. It seemed like no one wanted to take the shot and that extra pass cost the Lightning some grade A scoring chances.
The Lightning has done a much better job of late in getting out of the gate quickly and keeping the pressure on throughout the game. It’s no coincidence that the Lightning won convincingly in those games.
Louis Domingue has played really well with Andrei Vasilevskiy out with the lower body injury. Matthieu Joseph and Adam Erne have played well in the absence of Ondrej Palat who should be back for the game against Buffalo.
The Lightning have had their share of injuries early on as Victor Hedman and Ondrej Palat have lost time to injuries. Vasilevskiy is out for at least another 2-3 weeks so Domingue will continue to see the majority of the starts.
The young kids have had to play more minutes than what was originally planned at the beginning of the season, but they have all stepped in and done a great job.
As the season continues and the Lightning will be playing pretty much 3-4 times a week, it is important that they maintain their intensity and sense of urgency right from the start.
When this team is clicking on all cylinders they are very difficult to beat. In the Lightnings seven losses this season, they were either out worked form the opening whistle, allowed the other team to hang around too long, or were just flat and not ready to play which will happen over the course of the 82 game season.
The Lightning habe more talent and more speed than any team in the Eastern Conference. With 6 of the next 7 against teams in the East, this is chance for the Lightning to gain some ground and separate themselves a bit from the likes of Buffalo and Toronto.