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Bolts vs. Blues Keys to the Game

by Rick Peckham / Tampa Bay Lightning
Hello Bolts Nation and Happy St. Patty's Day!

Big one tonight with the league-leading St. Louis Blues in town. They're 39-12-8 with Ken Hitchcock behind the bench and have stormed to the top of the standings with a 3-point lead over the Rangers. For the Lightning to win this game, accomplishing these things will help:

Not many goals will be scored in this one, so the Lightning will have to play one of their defensive games of the year. No gaps, plenty of support on the puck. Tampa Bay is tenth in scoring in the NHL at 2.80 per game, but the Blues allow 1.86 (next is NYR at 2.14). Their goalies Jaroslav Halak and Brian Elliott have been outstanding and their system is very difficult to beat.
Taking advantage of scoring opportunities is critical. The Lightning were very opportunistic and assertive against the Bruins and it paid off, but they couldn't capitalize vs. Carolina and it kept them from winning. There won't be a lot of chances here, so they must cash in.
Well sure, it's one of the big cliches in hockey now but it's very important. The Blues have lost two straight coming into tonight's matchup and Hitch has been lamenting their inability to do just that, manage the puck, in those games. If the Lightning get the lead, it's a great way to protect it. St. Louis has trailed after one period in 11 of 72 games, 17 times after two periods. Leads are precious.

Enjoy the game everyone!

A veteran of broadcasting professional hockey for the past 33 seasons, Rick Peckham is in his 16th season as the play-by-play announcer for the Tampa Bay Lightning and Sun Sports.

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