Happy New Year!
The Vancouver Canucks host the Tampa Bay Lightning tonight to begin the new year with game 42 of the regular season.
The Lightning will be without a few familiar faces tonight but have remained afloat since losing Steven Stamkos to injury, leaning on the leadership of captain Martin St. Louis.
Second Half, Second Chances
After earning 53 points through 41 games the Vancouver Canucks being their second half of their regular season tonight against the Lightning.
The Canucks currently sit sixth in a strong Western Conference but will be in a dogfight until the end for the eighth and final playoff spot.
Look for the contrast in conference difficulty to show tonight at Rogers Arena. The Lightning currently sit 3rd in the Eastern Conference with 50 points through 39 games played.
Lack Locked In
Eddie Lack is expected to make the start in his third game in four nights tonight against the Lightning. Roberto Luongo was seen practicing with the Canucks early today but isn’t expected to be ready to start until the weekend when the Kings are in town.
With Luongo out the last four games due to a groin injury, backup Eddie Lack is 3-0-1 with a .931 save percentage #Canucks
— Q Smith™ (@NWSBQ) January 1, 2014
Lack will be looking to bounce back tonight against the Bolts after losing his first game since taking over for Roberto Luongo in late December.
The return of both Steven Stamkos and Sami Salo stood out as a game to get to when looking ahead to the 2013-14 season however both familiar faces will be held out of the lineup tonight against the Canucks.
Stamkos is out rehabilitating a broken tibia while Salo is out with the dreaded upper-body injury.
The Lightning have found a way to win on the road lately, taking their last three straight while outscoring their opposition 11-3 over that span.
Opening a four-game Western road swing the Bolts will be looking to continue that trend against a Canucks team that is trying to bounce back after their first and only home loss in the month of December.
Rogers Arena Reinforcements
While the Lightning will be without Steven Stamkos and Sami Salo for tonight’s game the team is expecting a couple of key reinforcements to join them on their four-game road trip.
Ryan Malone (ankle) and Eric Brewer (upper-body) are expected to play tonight against the Canucks, giving the road team another reason to feel confident tonight at Rogers Arena.
While the home team may have been more likely to have a little too much fun on New Year’s Eve the Canucks will be hoping the Roxy Flu will be in full effect tonight.
Fast Fact: The Canucks lead the league in penalty-killing (89.7 percent) after allowing only two power-play goals in 34 chances during December.
Don’t forget to watch the “other” hockey game on right now. I am.
Alright I'm all hopped up on cold medication let's do this. #WinterClassic
— Kevin Vanstone (@KevinVanstone) January 1, 2014