Nashville Predators @ Tampa Bay Lightning Preview: Charging the Bolts

The Predators' week doesn't get any easier, as they are in Tampa tonight to take one of the better teams in the East.

The Nashville Predators lost to the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday. It's going to happen a lot in the near future, so get over it. Today is a new day, and they have a chance to uphold the "West is Better" mantra that has rung true this season when they face the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The Stats

Nashville Predators Tampa Bay Lightning
Record 16-15-3 17th 20-11-3 12th
GF/Game 2.29 24th 2.59 15th
GA/Game 2.71 18th 2.38 10th
5-on-5 Close SF/60 29.6 13th 29.0 15th
5-on-5 Close SA/60 28.2 13th 27.0 8th
Fenwick Close 49.70 16th 51.50 10th
5-on-5 Close Save % .920 20th .943 3rd
5-on-4 GF/60 6.5 12th 5.4 20th
# of PP's/Gm 3.15 25th 3.44 11th
4-on-5 GA/60 5.7 11th 5.8 12th
# of PK's/Gm 3.29 17th 3.44 20th

The Tampa Bay Lightning

After missing the playoffs each of the last two years, the Lightning could be one of the surprise teams this season. With a 20-11-3 record, the Bolts sit fourth in the Eastern Conference and third in the Atlantic division. However, they've come down from the lofty perch they sat upon early in the season, most notably because of the loss of Steven Stamkos. The 60-goal-scorer hasn't played since breaking his leg against the Boston Bruins on November 11. While Stamkos isn't the only part of their offense, he still leads the team in goals with 14, and is one of the most lethal shooters in the game. There is no replacement for him. Incredibly, he's resumed skating already.

Still, Tampa has Martin St. Louis leading the charge now that Vinny Lecavelier is in Philly. The 38-year-old with bionic legs paces his team in points, and is tied for 16th in the entire NHL with 33. Also high on the stats list is Valtteri Filpulla, who was signed in the offseason. He definitely got more money than he should have, but in the first of his five-year deal he is working for that money. He was responsible for the Bolts winning on Tuesday against the Islanders.

Valtteri Filppula

#51 / Center / Tampa Bay Lightning



Mar 20, 1984

2013 - Valtteri Filppula 34 12 11 23 -2 8 3 0 0 58 20.7

Of course, no Lightning preview would be complete without mentioning the otherworldly play of Ben Bishop this season. Bishop currently is second in the league in wins (18), fifth in GAA (1.96), fourth in SV% (.934) and tied for first in shutouts with three. All of this with 28 games under his belt. Our old friend, Anders Lindback, isn't fairing so well. The former Pred only has two win in 10 tries, and his numbers don't look good.

Update: It looks like our old pal Anders gets the start tonight!

The Nashville Predators

Shea Weber is just one goal behind Zdeno Chara and Erik Karlsson, who lead the league. It's almost like Weber is as good, or better, than those two. If only they had some sort of trophy to commemorate such an occasion.

With his goal on Tuesday, Weber now leads the club in that regard. As talented a player as the captain is, he shouldn't be stockpiling more goals than the Nashville forwards. It's almost like the roster is made up entirely of grunts and complementary players, but no one to stir the proverbial drink. Surely management wouldn't actually let that happen, would they?

Shea Weber

#6 / Defenseman / Nashville Predators



Aug 14, 1985

2013 - Shea Weber 26 7 5 12 -7 20 5 0 1 55 11.8

Murmurs from yesterday's practice were that Colin Wilson was the odd-man out. It's just a practice, and could have nothing to do with the actual game, but this is becoming all too common around these parts. Players that should be playing sit in favor of players that shouldn't, throwing off any groove they which hurts them in the long run. Rinse, lather and repeat. It's almost like the coach... you know what? I'll just stop here.

Tune into FS-TN at 6:30 p.m. CST tonight to see St. Louis before he heads back to the North Pole with Santa.