The Tampa Bay Lightning will play four games in seven days this week. The team will play the first two games on the road and then finish the week up with two games at home.
1) Sunday, Jan. 13: Lightning vs. Islanders- 7 p.m. ET – ESPN+
The Lightning start the week off against the New York Islanders, who have been one of the surprising teams so far this season. The Bolts will need to keep an eye on Mathew Barzal when he is on the ice and not give him any time or space to make plays. The Lightning should not have a problem taking care of their power play opportunities since the Isles have only killed 78% of their penalties taken this season. The key to grabbing two points in this game for the Lightning will be to get plenty of pucks on the net with traffic in front so the goalie has problems seeing the puck.
The Islanders have exceeded most fans expectation this season, but that should be no surprise since Barry Trotz is behind the bench. The Isles will have to find a way to stop the balanced attack of the Lightning, which could happen if they spend more time in the offensive zone than in the defensive zone. The Islanders will want to be physical to try to wear down the Bolts since they had a game against the Buffalo Sabres last night. The biggest key to the game for the Islanders is going to be the play of their goaltender, who has a chance to be able to steal two points if he can stop pucks and not allow any soft goals.
2) Tuesday, Jan. 15: Lightning vs. Stars- 8:30 p.m. ET
On Tuesday night, the Dallas Stars play host to the Lightning. The Bolts should try to establish the forecheck game early because the Stars tend to turn the puck over during the course of a game. The Lightning need to try to limit the point production of Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin and Alexander Radulov, who have accounted for much of the Stars offense this season. It would help if the Lightning could get off to a fast start and get the first goal of the game to take the home crowd out of the game.
The Stars have been a team of mediocrity and inconsistency this season, but are still in third place in the Central Divsion. They’ll want to make sure that they stay out of the penalty box since the Lightning have the top ranked power play in the League. The Stars want to play a smart hockey game and limit turnovers especially in the neutral zone since the Lightning have a good transition game. The goalie is going to need to be sharp and make some saves. The key to the game will be getting some secondary scoring from the other lines, which have struggled to contribute when needed this season.
3) Thursday, Jan. 17: Maple Leafs vs. Lightning- 7:30 p.m. ET – ESPN+
On Thursday night, the Bolts return home for a huge divisional matchup against the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Lightning will want to watch Mitch Marner and John Tavares since they are the leading point producer and goal scorer for the Leafs. They will want to play solid defense since the Maple Leafs have a balanced lineup and can put some pucks in the net. The Bolts should avoid turnovers and limit mistakes since the opposition has a decent transition game of its own. The goaltender will be a key part in this game and if he can make some saves then the Lightning should be able to get two points.
The Maple Leafs are without goalie Frederik Andersen, but he could be back for this game depending on how he is feeling. Discipline is going to be necessary in this game since the Lightning have the number one ranked power play in the League at the moment. The Maple Leafs need to establish the forecheck early and often in this game to stop the Bolts’ offense. The key to this game is going to be clogging the neutral zone so the Lightning can’t use their speed or establish a good transition game.
4) Saturday, Jan. 19: Sharks vs. Lightning: 7:00 p.m. ET
The Bolts finish off the week against the red hot San Jose Sharks, who have really turned a slow start around. The Lightning need to keep an eye on defensemen Erik Karlsson and Brent Burns, who are like having an extra forward out on the ice. The team should try to limit their mistakes and make sure that they have a lead after the second period of the game since the Sharks have only two regulation wins when trailing after two periods.
This game will be a good challenge for the Sharks, who are playing one of the best teams in the League. The team will need to get good goaltending in order to steal two points in this game. The Sharks need to attack and not sit back especially if they get behind because the Bolts have given up some goals when leading. The key to the game will be to watch out for Brayden Point, who is the leading goal scorer for the Lightning.
Lightning Strikes Weekly Prediction
The Bolts will finish the week with a 2-1-1 record for five points. The Lightning will win their two games on the road. They’ll come home and only get one point against the Maple Leafs. The Bolts will finish the week off with a regulation loss to the Sharks.