Where: Climate Pledge Arena
When: Wednesday, March 16, 2022; 7:00pm PDT
Wait, who are we playing? Landlubber’s Guide to the Tampa Bay Lightning
Local TV: *none*
National TV: TNT
Local Radio: 950 AM KJR
SiriusXM: Channel 219
Last Time Out
On the Kraken’s only visit to the Sunshine State back in November the Lightning barely had to break a sweat while handing Seattle its first shutout loss of the season. Tampa Bay goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy wasn’t tested much at all, making a whopping 17 saves on the way to a 3-0 victory.
Stats, Streaks, & Droughts
This Western Conference swing has not been kind to the Lightning. They lost their way across the Canadian prairies, dropping contests to the Winnipeg Jets, Calgary Flames, and Edmonton Oilers in that order — their longest losing streak of the season, mind you — before finally bagging a 2-1 win over Vancouver on Sunday. Lightning starter Vasilevskiy does not seem like himself on this road trip, allowing a combined nine goals in the Winnipeg and Calgary contests while amassing an uncharacteristic .857 save percentage. He bounced back impressively against Vancouver, and with two days’ rest under his belt, it’s expected we see Vasilevskiy in goal tonight.
The Kraken, however, managed to snatch three out of a possible four points against Ottawa and Montreal to end the Canadian leg of the five-game road trip. The win against the Canadiens puts them in position to tie their longest win streak of the year (two games) with a victory tonight. Seattle forwards Jared McCann and Ryan Donato are the hot hands of late, both scoring goals in each of the last two contests. Philipp Grubauer has allowed no more than three goals against in five of his last seven starts — a noteworthy improvement for him — and is expected to get the call against Tampa Bay.
Players To Watch
The problem with Tampa Bay is, the only person on the ice not likely to be involved in a scoring play is the goaltender. The Lightning have nine players with 30 or more points — the Kraken, by way of comparison, have three. The offense is led by Steven Stamkos, who is just three goals shy of hitting the 30-goal plateau for the seventh time in his 14-year career:
Franchise defenseman Victor Hedman leads the team in assists with 43:
And Brayden Point, second on the team in goals with 22, has reached the 40-point mark in each of the six years he’s been playing:
These are just the headliners in a roster overflowing with offensive firepower. Nikita Kucherov, for instance, has only played 24 games — but has 30 points. It’s kinda not fair.
Injuries, Illnesses, Additions, & Scratches
I wish I could tell you that half the Lightning roster was out due to injury or illness, but in fact the exact opposite is true — the Lightning are 100% healthy. Apart from the cap relief Tampa Bay acquired when they traded for Brent Seabrook’s contract, the Lightning have nobody on injured reserve, nobody in COVID-19 protocol, and nobody on LTIR.
For the Kraken, no change in status for Brandon Tanev (knee, out for the season) or Karson Kuhlman (upper-body, day-to-day). Joonas Donskoi was added to the Injured Reserve list last week, his timeline for return is unknown. And Alex Wennberg, a late scratch before the tilt against Montreal, is also still on the mend. The Kraken have nobody in COVID-19 protocol, and no players on LTIR.
Odds & Ends
- If you missed it in the Coverage section above, TNT has exclusive rights for the broadcast tonight; no streaming access, and no local coverage.
- Tonight’s tilt is one of only four games left on Seattle’s schedule against Eastern Conference teams — Detroit pops in this coming weekend; and New Jersey and Ottawa come to town in mid-April. The remaining games present ample opportunities to scuttle playoff hopes for conference rivals. Of the 20 games left to play after tonight, 11 of them are against teams fighting for a spot in the post-season.
- Speaking of scheduling: the re-scheduled games from earlier in the year will create three separate back-to-backs when the Kraken face the same opponent: first the Los Angeles Kings at home; then the Vegas Golden Knights in the desert; and finally a home-and-home against the Calgary Flames. Fortunately none of those are on consecutive nights.
- With less than a week to go until the trade deadline, Seattle Kraken GM Ron Francis has yet to pull the trigger on a deal. Rumors of Mark Giordano being moved to the Toronto Maple Leafs have cooled as it has become more evident that Toronto has an acute deficiency in goal.
- And finally, the Shane Wright Sweepstakes got more interesting this week. The Montreal Canadiens and Arizona Coyotes went into Tuesday’s action — against each other — with the ‘Yotes tied with the Kraken for next-to-last with 42 points, and the Habs bringing up the rear with 40. The Coyotes ran away with it early, leading 4-1 after the first period and bringing it home with a final score of 6-3. So that puts the Coyotes ahead of Seattle with 44 points; the Kraken are now in sole possession of second-to-last place with 42; and Montreal still stuck in the basement at 40. Both Arizona and Montreal have a game in hand over Seattle — which will increase to 2 after tonight’s matchup.