It was one game. And really, it was just one period. The Blackhawks ran circles around the Panthers and launched 29 shots on goal in the second and third on Tuesday night. They just didn’t get the bounces and were up against a very talented, very lucky goaltender guarding the twine.
So, that happened. Cough it up, spit it out, and forget about it. Tonight we’re playing one of the hottest, most talented teams in the Tampa Bay Lightning. We’re going to have to put together a 60-minute performance that looks like our 40-minute performance last night.
The LAST 40 minutes.
The change in Tampa Bay came when they acquired the Islanders’ “spare” goaltender Dwayne Roloson on New Years’ Eve. This solidified what was a shaky situation in goal for the Lightning and, when combined with the league-leading scoring punch of Steven Stamkos, gave the team a chance to win every night. The second part of the offensive one-two punch is winger Martin St. Louis, second in the league in assists. Who’da thunkit.
They’re no slouches on the blue line either, as the core four of Brett Clark, Viktor Hedman, Eric Brewer and Pavel Kubina keep shots against the Bolts’ goalies at the third-lowest level in the league. The good news for the Blackhawks is, the Lightning are on a four-game winless streak. So if there is a “best” time to take on a potentially punishing team, I suppose this is it.
Expect the same lineup as we fielded last night, though the big question mark is in goal. Do you play it safe and stick Marty Turco in for his first start since February 11th? Or do you get Corey Crawford back on the horse, so to speak, and let him make up for last night’s let-down? We’ve been saying that Crawsome needs a rest here for a while now. The Blackhawks are off until Sunday after this. I say, let the boy watch this one and catch his breath. As of this writing, all there is to go on is the moderately-educated guesses of us bloggerazzi. We’ll find out soon enough, I guess.
Sick & splinted: Lightning winger Ryan Malone and defenseman Randy Jones are out of the lineup; winger Steve Downie and utility player Marc-Andre Bergeron are questionable; defenseman Mike Lundin may be re-activated for tonight’s tilt. No changes in the injury situation for the Blackhawks, though with last night’s loss there is a *slight* chance you may see Fernando Pisani return to the lineup this evening. But I doubt it.
Another 6:30pm puck drop tonight. It’s a national broadcast on Versus, but Chicagoland viewers will see it on Comcast SportsNet. Broadcast radio is WGN AM-720, and XM subscribers can find the game on channel 208.
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