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Game 3 Preview: Lightning vs. Blue Jackets

January 20, 2021, 10:49 PM ET [5 Comments]
Michael Stuart
Tampa Bay Lightning Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
After almost a week off since their last game, the Tampa Bay Lightning will return to the ice for game action tomorrow against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Because of complications with COVID-19, the Bolts have only played two games on their 2021 schedule to date. They’ll be looking to extend their perfect record to 3-0-0 in this matchup.

Because they’ve been sitting for so long and have only played games against the lowly Chicago Blackhawks, getting a real sense of this Lightning group’s readiness for regular season hockey is a little bit difficult. This is essentially the same squad that won the Stanley Cup back in the fall. Is there a Stanley Cup hangover? We really won’t know until they have the chance to play consistently. All we know for certain is that they throttled the Blackhawks twice a week ago. It means nothing now.

The good news for the Lightning as they seek their third straight win is that they look as though they’ll be in a position to keep the lineup essentially intact. While Blake Coleman spent time on the COVID list earlier in the week, he has been cleared and should be available for Jon Cooper’s use on this road trip.

Assuming that’s true, it’s tough to argue for any material changes outside the fourth line. The Palat-Stamkos-Point line has been as good as any line league wide in the early going of this season. The Yanni Gourde trio is arguably the best “checking line in hockey. Even the second line has managed to contribute consistently to start the year. Basically everything the Lightning could have wanted to go right has gone right.

For the Blue Jackets, the opposite is true. Their lone win of the season has come against the basement-dwelling Detroit Red Wings, which has left them with a 1-2-1 record. That pedestrian record is only half the story, too. Between the Pierre-Luc Dubois trade demand, John Tortorella benching Max Domi almost right out of the gate, and utter silence from most of their top offensive players, it’s been a rather rough go for Columbus to start the season. They’ll obviously be looking to turn things around tomorrow, which means the Lightning will need to be at their best to stem the tide. Here’s hoping they are up for the challenge.

As always, thanks for reading.
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