All you need to know about the first half of the Tampa Bay Lightning
's season can be found in two statistics:
Tuesday night at the Tampa Bay Times Forum, the Lightning will face the Vancouver Canucks
a) seeking to break a three-game losing streak
b) seeking their fifth straight win at home
That sums it up.
Tampa Bay has been in search of stability all season, but the only consistency it has found is in its production on home ice. The Lightning are 11-5-0 at home and 6-15-3 on the road. Even more telling, their power play has connected at 21.8 percent at home and only 8.4 percent (worst in the NHL) on the road.
"Our power play on the road has been awful," Lightning coach Guy Boucher
said. "I guess we like our fans at home and the reaction of the fans when we score on the power play."
But redemption could be just around the corner, as the Lightning begin a stretch where nine of their next 12 games will be at home.
"The next 12 games will show what will happen to us," Boucher said. "They will be very crucial. We've played great at home. We've beaten good teams here. Our game needs to be what it is at home and not what it has been on the road. We don't need to re-invent our game."
Although mired in 13th place in the Eastern Conference, nine points out of the final playoff spot at the mid-point of the season, Boucher hasn't bothered to track the standings.
"I've coached for 14 years now and never looked at the standings," Boucher said. "The standings today mean nothing. Today we're meeting Vancouver. Looking at how far other teams might be ahead is more discouraging than it is encouraging. Today it's not about what will happen in a month, it's about what will happen tonight in the first five minutes of the game. If we're not ready in those first five minutes, the rest of the standings really don't matter."
The Canucks (26-14-3) took the morning off after losing 2-1 Monday night against the Florida Panthers
. Vancouver has not lost two games in a row since Nov. 4.
Here's how the lineups project:
- Henrik Sedin
- Daniel Sedin
- Ryan Kesler
- Chris Higgins
- Maxim Lapierre
- Jannik Hansen
- Manny Malhotra
- Dale Weise
- Kevin Bieksa
- Alexander Sulzer
- Andrew Alberts
- Vincent Lecavalier
- Brett Connolly
Martin St. Louis
- Steven Stamkos
- Steve Downie
- Dominic Moore
- Teddy Purcell
- Nate Thompson
- Dana Tyrell
- Pavel Kubina
- Matt Gilroy
- Brendan Mikkelson