Our beloved Blackhawks continue their Florida road trip with a visit to the Tampa Bay Times Forum to take on the Tampa Bay Lighting for the second time this season, and given the way their first encounter went down, they should, scratch that, they NEED to have a desire for redemption!
As you probably remember, not too long ago, the Bolts paid a visit to the Madhouse during the first week of the season, and the Hawks pounced with a two goal lead in the second period. After that unfortunately, the Hawks were content to sit on their tail feathers and allow the Lighting to tie it up with two unanswered goals in the third period and go on to steal the game in a shootout. It was the start of a disturbing trend: The Hawks getting, and then giving up early leads, and allowing games to coming down to the wire. It’s a trend that has continued all the way up to their latest win against the Panthers in, yep, a shootout. The forecast calls for some winds of change!
Speaking of weather, whenever anyone thinks the Lighting they think Steven Stamkos, and rightfully so. But there are three other Lightning players off to an electric start this season that the Hawks need on their Doppler radar tonight so that can lay some wood (or other non-conductive substance) down and pull off a decisive win, like they should have the first time they played the Bolts. Spoiler Alert! There’s a commonality between these players, see if you can guess it…
#1 – Teddy Purcell:
This 28-year-old winger is quietly having a great start to the season with 4 goals and 4 assists. His 6’3’’ 203 lbs. frame has been able to hide in Stamkos’ shadow as other teams focus on shutting down the superstar, allowing Purcell to do damage when he’s in front of the net. He’s got a quick shot release and deceptive body language, so the Hawks D need to lay some lumber on his stick early and often when he’s anywhere near the goal.
#2 – Martin St. Louis:
At 37, Martin St. Louis’ glory days are behind him, but be that as it may, he still finished second in team scoring last season (behind Stamkos). Practically a relic from the Lightning’s glory days of the early 2000’s, St. Louis is the offensive equivalent of now retired Nicklas Lidström, using his wealth of experience to see the whole ice and put himself at the right place at the right time. He may be on borrowed time, but like an alligator (fittingly) St. Louis is the kind of player that’ll bite you if you turn your back on him. There’s a reason he’s currently tied with Stamkos with a team leading ten points so far in this season.
#3 – Valtteri Filppula:
Speaking of Lidström, Filppula should be name very a familiar name to Hawks fans. Filppula spent his entire NHL career with the Red Wings (pause for fist clench) before coming to Tampa. Suffice it say he’s got the most intimate knowledge of the Blackhawks strengths and weaknesses of anyone on the Lightning, which he’s more than likely to chirp up and down the bench. Filppula is 4th on the Lighting with 4 goals and 2 assists thus far in the season, but he does the majority of his damage at the dot, currently sitting at seventh in the NHL in face-off percentage at 57.2%. Towes and ‘Zus need to be in top face-off form or things could get ugly real fast.
Figure out the common thread among St. Louis, Purcell, and Filppula? Give up? All three of these players tallied goals in the Hawks last encounter with the Lighting, with Filppula netting the decisive shootout point.
Let’s hope revenge is a dish best served on cold ice and our beloved Blackhawks come out storming against the Lightning all three periods and keeping bring the heat to Florida!
FOR THE DAGGER!