Lightning-Blues a matchup of teams seeking offense
Friday, 12.18.2009 / 7:00 PMLIGHTNING (11-14-9) at BLUES (14-13-5)
Last 10 –
Tampa Bay 1-8-1; St. Louis 5-4-1
Season series –
The teams are meeting for the only time this season. St. Louis won the lone meeting in 2008-09, beating the Lightning 4-3 in overtime at Tampa on March 6, 2009. The Lightning won their most recent visit to the Scottrade Center, 5-4 on Feb. 5, 2008.
Big story –
Talk about a battle between two teams that are struggling to score. Both the Lightning and the Blues are coming off 3-0 losses – the Lightning at Detroit on Thursday, the Blues at Chicago on Wednesday. Both teams are out of the top eight in their respective conferences and desperate for wins.
The Bolts did a good job limiting Detroit’s scoring opportunities on Thursday, allowing the Wings just 22 shots. Unfortunately for Tampa Bay, three of them beat Mike Smith while Detroit netminder Jimmy Howard stopped all 30 Lightning shots for his first NHL shutout.
"If we continue to make those kind of mistakes, we don't have a chance (to make the playoffs)," Smith said. "We don't have a good enough team to make those mistakes."
The Bolts have dropped six in a row, including the first four games of a six-game trip that concludes Monday on Long Island.
The Blues have been up and down over the last couple of weeks, unable to muster a winning streak that would help them climb out of the morass of teams trying to break into the top eight in the West. They followed up a 4-3 home victory over Calgary on Tuesday with a 3-0 loss at Chicago the next night – a game in which they were solidly outclassed.
"It was a case of not having enough of the guys we need to be good being good tonight," a frustrated coach Andy Murray said.
Who’s hot – Martin St. Louis
, Tampa Bay’s top scorer with 35 points in 34 games, is 1-4-5 in his last five. Steven Stamkos
leads the Bolts with 18 goals. … David Backes
has 3 goals and 4 points in the last three games for the struggling Blues’ offense.
Injury report --
Tampa Bay defenseman Victor Hedman
didn't play Thursday because of a foot injury and forward Steve Downie
sat out because of an upper-body injury. Lightning center Jeff Halpern took 12 stitches after being hit in the mouth with a puck.… The Blues are still without defenseman Eric Brewer
and forward D.J. King, both of whom are on IR, but are otherwise healthy.
Stat pack –
The Lightning have already lost 10 games by three or more goals, tying them with Toronto and the Islanders for the most in the League. The Bolts have played 16 games decided by one goal, 16 decided by three or more – and just two decided by two goals. … St. Louis has been hurt by the inability to score on the power play. The Blues are last in the NHL in power-play percentage (12.9) and goals (15 – no one else has less than 20).
Puck drop –
With both teams struggling for offense and consistency, don't expect a lot of goals in this matchup between teams that rarely see each other.