NHL Game of the Week: Panthers vs. Lightning
The Panthers and Lightning meet for the second time this season in the battle of Florida. This game is very important for both teams as they sit fifth and fourth in a very competitive Atlantic division.
The first time these two teams met, the Lightning won 3-2 in overtime with the game-winning goal coming from the stick of Brayden Point. The Lightning also swept the Panthers in the second round of the playoffs last year, so the Cats will be looking for revenge.
Last year the Panthers finished first in the overall NHL standings and had the best offense, but this year they are not the same powerhouse.
Currently, the Panthers offense ranks 11th in average goals per game, but they really struggle on the powerplay and in the faceoff circle. They also struggle on defense where they rank 21st in average goals allowed and 19th on penalty kill percentage.
Sergei Bobrovsky got a large contract from the Panthers in 2019 but after struggling to start this season it looks like third year player Spencer Knight has taken the keys and become the starting goalie for the club.
Knight is having a good season with a 2.64 goals against average and an 8-4-3 record. He consistently allows the Panthers to compete in games, and will need to be on his A game on Saturday.
The Tampa Bay Lightning have been to three straight Stanley Cup Finals and are showing no signs of slowing down. This offseason they lost important players such as Ondřej Palát and Ryan McDonaghm but the Lightning are able to keep developing young talent and keep winning.
The Lightning have a record of 15-9-1 with 31 points on the season.
Nikita Kucherov is off to an amazing start with 37 points in 25 games played and will be a huge factor in Saturday's game.
As always when you talk about the Lightning it all starts with Andrei Vasilevsky. He is arguably the most important player on the team.
Vasilevsky is having a down year for his standards but is still one of the best goalies in the world. He currently has a 2.75 goals against with a 10-8-1 record which is not bad.
This should be a great game between two teams that really do not like each other. At the end of the day the Lightning are the better team and play very strong at home which could be the difference.
I think this game will be close throughout and low-scoring with the Lightning winning 3-2 just like they did in the first meeting of the season.
Ben Wasserman is a third year telecommunications and media industries student. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org