Scouting the Enemy: Tampa Bay Lightning

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Record: 21-30-12

Leading scorers: Martin St. Louis (22G, 40A), Vinny Lecavalier (27G, 31A)

Blogs: Bolts Blog

 As winners of the past three and five of the last six, it goes without saying that the Penguins need this one if they want to keep their playoff chances alive.  Gary Roberts/Martin St. Louis to Pittsburgh rumors aside, this is no time to let up.  The Lightning are looking to spoil and the Pens are looking to surprise.

On the plus side Tampa is without their starting goaltender Mike Smith who's currently trying to come back around from a concussion he sustained over two weeks ago.  Backups Mike McKenna and/or Karri Romo will likely fill the crease.

However, there's still room for concern.  Tampa Bay are coming off a win over the Calgary Flames in which they scored a season-high eight goals on 32 shots.  Do you credit the Tampa offense or blame the Calgary defense? 

Tampa's power play performed at a flattering 3-for-5, but there's some reprieve in knowing that the penalty kill was not as lucky.  As in, at all.  The Flames went a perfect 3-for-3 with the man advantage. 

Outside of Sunday night's win, the Lightning aren't exactly putting up numbers.  They were 3-7-2 for the month of February and remain front runners for top draft picks.  Martin St. Louis is involved in plenty of trade talk and Steven Stamkos is still not their version of Sidney Crosby. 

But let us not forget Tampa's 2-0 shutout win over the Pens right before Christmas.  Much like how we're not ruling out the Penguins' chances of making the playoffs, Tampa's not ruling out a win in this one. 

Pitt has to keep the streak alive.

[Edit 12:35pm]: Just heard on NHL Live that the Lightning placed Gary Roberts on waivers.  Obviously he won't be on the ice tonight, but it's likely that Tampa is testing his value before tomorrow's deadline.

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