Up next: Steve Stamkos, Martin St. Louis and the Tampa Bay Lightning

[SBN Lightning blog - Raw Charge]

Record: 30-33-12 (12th in the East)

Scorers: Martin St. Louis (27g, 60a), Steve Stamkos (45g, 41a), Vinny Lecavalier (22g, 44a)

Steve Stamkos is having one hell of a year.  And as far as I'm concerned, it's no fluke.  This kid has found his stride and will no doubt step it up in the league over the next few seasons to make his presence known.  I mean, you don't double nearly double your production in both goals and assists and consider it a decent year.  Not when those totals are edging close to a 50/50 season (although admittedly both will be pretty difficult to achieve with only seven games remaining on Tampa's schedule).

The Lightning is officially out of the playoff hunt.  Even winning out will leave them just outside the playoff bubble, given the understanding that it takes 90 or more points to crack the Top 8.  But that doesn't necessarily mean the Lightning isn't going to bring the effort today.  As the often say at this point in a team's losing season, they still have their pride to play for.  Seeing as how Buffalo smacked them around 7-1 Saturday night, I'd imagine there's even more pride to play for than ever.  Toss in the Blue Jackets' two-goal rally last night that ultimately led to a 3-2 win and it only makes the drive for a win stronger.

But perhaps there's also one little thing the Pens will be playing for more than just the win.  You may remember not too long ago, one Steve Downie took a cheap shot attempt at Sidney Crosby.  Despite bending back like a pretzel in a position that would likely rupture every tendon, muscle and bone in the average human being, Crosby skated away from the "tackle" unscathed."  Tonight, there's a chance Downie may have to respond to his actions, much like the way Matt Cooke had to answer in Boston.

Downie was allegedly injured after playing Boston earlier in the week, but still managed to crack the TB lineup against Buffalo to post up the only Lightning goal.  I think it's safe to say he'll play again tonight, barring any sort of flu or stomach illness that may sporadically cause him to miss the game.  That would just be...terrible.

Puck.  Thread.  7:30.

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