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Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Tampa Bay Lightning 11/15/2018; lines, preview, how to watch

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Hockey! Hockey!!

NHL: Tampa Bay Lightning at Pittsburgh Penguins Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Who: Tampa Bay Lightning (12-5-1; 25 points, 1st in Atlantic Division) @ Pittsburgh Penguins (7-6-3; 17 points, 7th in Metropolitan Division)

When: 7:00 p.m. ET

How to Watch: On TV locally in Pittsburgh (AT&T Sportsnet), Tampa (SUN),

Opponent Track: Despite having a great record, the Lightning are entering tonight’s game on a modest two game losing streak. It is the first time all season they have lost two games in a row.

Pens Refresh: Dropped a 4-2 game to New Jersey on Tuesday night and made a big trade on Wednesday

SBN Team Counterpart: Raw Charge

Broken foot for Vasilevskiy

Potentially big trouble for Tampa with all-world goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy going down recently with an injury. A look at what that means from Raw Charge:

The Lightning have been playing well to start the season, but this is not the kind of news you want to hear coming about the team’s starting goaltender. On the year, Vasilevskiy is 9-3-1 with a .927 SV% and 2.29 GGA with one shutout.

In his place, expect Louis Domingue to get the bulk of the starts. Domingue is 3-2 in starts this season, but has struggled with an .887 SV% and 3.43 GAA. Some of that is due to one really bad game against the Arizona Coyotes. However, he has only had two games this season where he’s had better than a .900 SV%.

Obviously getting to face Dominque (.887 save%) instead of Vasilevskiy (.927 save%) is a huge - pardon the pun- break for Pittsburgh and all of Tampa’s upcoming opponents, big time talent disparity dropping down from a Vezina caliber starting goalie to a journeyman backup.

Top talent demands top effort

It’s no coincidence that if you look at the best games the Penguins have played this year from an effort and generating scoring chances perspective (both games versus Washington, Vegas, one against Toronto) they have been against perceived top teams in the league, ones that went far in the playoffs last year or are expected to this year.

Pittsburgh seems to “get up” a lot better and put forth effort in these games, it definitely catches their attention. So too should Tampa, one of the top and most consistent teams in the Eastern Conference since 2015 (even if it hasn’t resulted in a Stanley Cup).

No team in the East has more points in the standings than Tampa’s 25, so it should be a heavyweight battle of two powerful teams. Hopefully Pittsburgh will display a bit more desperation though, because of where they are - and what their GM is doing - they had better get it in gear.

Player stats at a glance

from hockeydb

-Brayden Point and Yanne Gourde aren’t always the players that get the limelight when people talk or think about Tampa, but they have been awesome so far this season and the point scoring leaders on the team all season long so far.

-Oh yeah, and you have Nikita Kucherov at a point per game rate, Steven Stamkos, Tyler Johnson and J.T. Miller not too far behind. Tampa as always is very dangerous at staked with offensive weapons.

-Ryan McDonaugh looks to have adjusted nicely and is starting to fit in for Tampa in his first full season there.

-I’m sure no one is panicking, but after recording 46 assists last year, Victor Hedman has but 2 in 15 games this season. That’s way less than to be expected, even Dan Girardi (3) has more!

Lines (from their last game on Sunday)

J.T Miller - Steven Stamkos - Nikita Kucherov

Yanni Gourde - Brayden Point - Tyler Johnson

Alex Killorn - Anthony Cirelli - Mathieu Joseph

Adam Erne - Cedric Paquette - Ryan Callahan

Victor Hedman / Dan Girardi

Ryan McDonaugh / Anton Stralman

Braydon Coburn / Mikhail Sergachev

—Tampa always seems to have what Pittsburgh had in 2016 when they had a Sheary-Rust-Kuhnhackl type of talent infusion with guys now like Gourde-Cirelli-Joseph-Paquette.

And now for the Pens

Infographic courtesy of the Penguins:

All eyes on Sid

The status of Sidney Crosby is up in the air after being evaluated for an upper body injury yesterday.

Possible lines

(from Wednesday practice)

Dominik Simon - Sidney Crosby - Bryan Rust

Tanner Pearson - Evgeni Malkin - Patric Hornqvist

Jake Guentzel - Riley Sheahan - Phil Kessel

Garrett Wilson - Matt Cullen - Zach Aston-Reese

Jack Johnson / Kris Letang

Brian Dumoulin / Chad Ruhwedel

Olli Maatta / Jamie Oleksiak

Healthy scratches: Juuso Riikola, Daniel Sprong

Weird to not see Hagelin in there :(

For now, we will stay hopefully since the Pens used a place holder for Crosby in practice yesterday and stay positive and have him in the lineup here. Obviously that could change. The Pens called up Derek Grant yesterday, so if Sid can’t go, probably bump all the centers up one line and put Grant in on the 4th line.

Update: perhaps a good sign, as either Sidney Crosby or Groucho Marx has taken to the ice.

The Sid stache is looking fine and dandy like cotton candy these days you guys. And November’s only half over! Bless up.