Tampa Bay Lightning – 1/2/22
The New York Rangers and Tampa Bay Lightning prepare for their second straight game this afternoon at Madison Square Garden. The Blueshirts defeated the Bolts in a shootout, 4-3, at Amalie Arena on New Years Eve. Barclay Goodrow, formerly of the Tampa Bay Lightning, was the Blueshirts’ best player of the game. Let’s take a look at some storylines ahead of today’s game.
2 Scenarios: Tampa Bay Lightning (21-7-5)
Cooper, Elliott, Sergachev and more return from COVID protocol
Lightning Head Coach Jon Cooper, Brian Elliott and Mikhail Sergachev returned from COVID-19 health and safety protocols this week. The head coach, who had been on COVID protocol since December 21, returned last Thursday to coach the game against the Florida Panthers. Elliott, who entered protocol last Monday, returned and started for the Bolts in Friday night’s game.
Starting goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy has been on health and safety protocols since last Sunday. Sergachev was back in the Lightning roster for Friday’s game after being placed on COVID protocol a week ago. The defender said he was following protocol: “Obviously it was a little frustrating. But then you just have to get out of this topic, you know what I mean? Like, stop thinking about it and just think about how ready you’ll be when you get back ”(from“ Lightning’s Mikhail Sergachev, Andrej Sustr Return of COVID Protocol ”, Tampa Bay weather, 12/31/21). Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and Andrej Sustr also returned to the Bolts at the end of the week after being placed in hygiene and safety protocol respectively last Sunday and Monday.
Lightning succeeds in December to take the head of the Atlantic division
The Florida Panthers led the Atlantic Division for most of the season until last month. Despite losing their last two games of 2021 – one against the Panthers and the other in a shootout against the Blueshirts – the Lightning went 9-2-1 in December. The back-to-back Stanley Cup champions play as Cup contenders again in early 2022.
Steven Stamkos is having another successful season with 16 goals and 23 assists in 32 games played. Vasilevskiy is one of the best goalies in the league with a 17-4-3 record, a save percentage (SV%) of .928 and a goals-against average (GAA) of 2, 14. Last year’s Conn Smythe Trophy winner is expected to be in the mix for the Vezina Trophy this season if he maintains his excellent level of play through the end of 2021-22.
2 scenarios: New York Rangers (20-8-4)
Georgiev returns from COVID protocol, Kinkaid moved to Taxi Squad
Rangers goalie Alexandar Georgiev was removed from health and safety protocols yesterday after being placed there on December 26. Due to the NHL’s reduction in the quarantine period from ten to five days for asymptomatic players who test negative, the Blueshirts goaltender is available to play. He joined Rangers last month while Igor Shesterkin, who returned to play on December 29, missed more than three weeks with a lower body injury.
Related: Rangers Weekly: Shesterkin’s injury, Georgiev’s game, Panarin and more
Keith Kinkaid, who had been the backup while Georgiev was in protocol, was transferred to the taxi team. Adam Huska was assigned to the American Hockey League (AHL) Hartford Wolf Pack taxi team. The Rangers have their starting and substitute goaltenders available to play for the first time in a month.
Goodrow has a day to remember upon his return to Tampa Bay
Goodrow, who was a member of the Bolts’ Stanley Cup winning team last season, received his championship ring ahead of Friday night’s game. Moreover, he was going to direct the Blueshirts with two goals against his former team in the shootout victory. The forward signed with the Rangers last offseason and the two sides agreed to a six-year, $ 21.8 million contract, with an average annual value (AAV) of $ 3.64 million.
Regarding his emotions on his return to Tampa Bay, Goodrow said: “I have been traded a number of times, but I haven’t been back to San Jose since being traded there, so this is the first time. time I come back to a team that I played for. Obviously it brings back a lot of memories, a lot of good times that we had here in this building. It was cool to see the banner in the rafters for the first time and it brought back a lot of good emotions ”(from“ Rangers Barclay Goodrow Not Surprised That Lightning Thrives Without Him ”, New York Post, 12/30/21).
The second game in three days between the Lightning and the Rangers should be an interesting game between two teams who are contenders for the Eastern Conference. Friday’s match between the teams was tied and had to be decided in a shootout. The Blueshirts would benefit from beating the Bolts in back-to-back games in terms of an increasingly confident young team beating the Stanley Cup winner over the past two seasons. Both teams are in a position of having to win in order to remain competitive in their respective divisions.
Matt covers the New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils and has previously contributed content on the Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins for The Hockey Writers. For interview and podcast requests, follow Matt on Twitter which appears at the end of his articles.