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Tonight on NBCSN: Streaking Lightning square off with streaky Kings

Feb 7, 2012, 7:48 AM EDT

Steven Stamkos Getty Images

Both the Los Angeles Kings and the Tampa Bay Lightning come into tonight’s game (7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN) on streaks of a different kind.

The Lightning are winners of six out of their last seven games and that run has them thinking about the playoffs once again. While they’re 11th in the Eastern Conference, they’re 10 points behind eighth place Ottawa. Fortunately for Tampa Bay, the teams they need to jump over to catch up to Ottawa are all in their division as they’re three behind Winnipeg and seven back of Washington.

Leading the charge for the Lightning are the usual suspects. Martin St. Louis netted a hat trick in the Lightning’s last win while Vincent Lecavalier is a 20-goal scorer once again and Steve Stamkos continues to be the NHL leader in goals.

Offense has never been Tampa’s issue, however, but they’ve gotten steadier goaltending of late from Mathieu Garon and with a host of their injured defensemen and other forwards returning, the Lightning are in a good spot right now.

The Kings’ streak is a bit different of late as they too have gotten points in the standings, but many of those thanks to overtime or shootout losses. L.A. is hoping to avoid a three-game losing streak tonight and they’re desperate to see their offense return. Over their last 10 games (4-3-3) they’ve scored just 21 goals and been shutout only once in that span. That’s not getting it done for anyone.

While goalie Jonathan Quick has been brilliant at times, the Kings need more offensively from Anze Kopitar, Mike Richards, and Dustin Brown. With Simon Gagne out of action with a concussion the Kings’ defense has tried to step up with Drew Doughty and Jack Johnson. With all those issues, you’d never know that Los Angeles was seventh in the Western Conference. Should the Kings ever start scoring goals, they’ll be a bear to deal with in the postseason.

  1. vshehane - Feb 7, 2012 at 7:57 AM

    I would like to see the word “streaky” stricken from this sight forever.

  2. nhlbruins90 - Feb 7, 2012 at 9:41 AM

    Go Kings!

  3. jamesmakesurmomneil - Feb 7, 2012 at 10:18 AM

    The lightning need to be realistic and become sellers. They should trade Ryan Meter Stick Malone back to his hometown Penguins. Let this guy get back on a playoff team where he belongs. Soupcan 2012

  4. lsxphotog - Feb 7, 2012 at 1:54 PM

    The Lightning have been in a different mindset since late January. The psychological part of hockey is commonly overlooked my fans and media when it comes to placement in the standings and the product on the ice. Tampa has it’s game together. They’re no longer wallowing around on the ice because they don’t think they have a shot to play the second season or because their goaltending is comically bad.

    In their past 10 games, they’ve played some tight hockey for 60 minutes most nights, sometimes getting 2 points with a 40- and 50-minute effort. They’re finally realizing it takes a good 60 minutes of play to win. Most of their starting talent is back healthy again and I’ll be damned if Stamkos doesn’t keep finding the back of the net on an almost nightly basis, and St. Louis/Lecavalier are back to their magic chemistry. The power play has finally found out how to enter the zone and once there, they have the offensive juggernauts on their special teams to post a goal on a more regular basis. Their net-minding has been solid from Garon who is shaping his way into a decent starter.

    The game against Florida should have been only 2 goals allowed by Garon, but Gilroy botched a play to move the puck out of their zone…much like his pathetic play he made against Washington trying to come around the net. (Tried to draw a penalty but instead gave up the puck near the crease and cost them a goal.) Their defense is a liability…Gilroy’s minutes since that game have not gone over 9 minutes…FOR A DEFENSEMAN. It’s obvious that Boucher is well aware of Gilroy’s tendency to make bone-head plays because he’s cost them in the past. Washington got a point out of that game. Damn shame.

    Enough of that, at least Tampa is looking good once again. They’re playing with confidence and keeping the pressure on with an aggressive forecheck that doesn’t leave their blueline hanging out to dry. If they can keep that up, they will keep winning.

    • boltsfan777 - Feb 7, 2012 at 2:46 PM

      It’s all about enjoying the good hockey times while it lasts, since there probably won’t be a playoff run. Things really turned around during the Boston game, didn’t they? Every game now has a playoff feel, except the Bolts no longer control their own fate. Even if they were to beat all odds and make the playoffs, would they have any gas left in the tank? Can’t worry about that now. Yeah, just enjoy the here and now.

      • lsxphotog - Feb 7, 2012 at 3:09 PM

        I’m going to have to disagree. Teams like the Rangers, Penguins, Bruins, Nucks, and Wings come out hard every night. They lose games when they don’t. Tampa hasn’t played hard and that’s why they haven’t won. They’re playing hard now and they’re winning. I’m pretty sure the aforementioned teams will all provide some excellent playoff hockey, in spite of playing their asses off night-after-night. It’s not like the energy used throughout the season means they’re going to need a nap in the playoffs. It means their conditioning themselves for the war looming in the distance. They will be prepared to bring their game every night.

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