Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman (77) skates with the puck alongside Blues forward Oskar Sundqvist (70). (Photo courtesy: Kim Klement, USA TODAY Sports)
11/27: Blues/Lightning, Amalie Arena, 6pm CT: FSMW, ESPN 101.1
Tampa, FL – The St. Louis Blues (14-5-6) will try to strike lightning twice in just 8 days with another matchup against the Tampa Bay Lightning (12-7-2). After dropping two games to Nashville and earning just one point in a shootout loss, St. Louis wants to get back in the win column after defeating the Lightning over a week ago, 3-1. Despite the standings, Nashville resurged with two wins over the division rival Blues, and edged them out in the shootout after leading 2-0 early in the game.
“We played a good third period,” Blues Head Coach Craig Berube told NHL.com. “We battled back and got a point out of it. It’s a tough game. They’re a good team, they work hard. It’s a tough building to play in.”
The Lightning, after a sluggish first quarter, are beginning to return to form, going 7-3-0 in their last ten games, including a 9-3 shellacking against the Rangers. Since losing to the Blues, they’ve won three games straight, outscoring their opposition 15-6.
The Bolts, however, will be shorthanded in this second matchup against St. Louis on their turf: captain Steven Stamkos is not expected to play after suffering an undisclosed injury in the 4-2 win over the Blackhawks. The last thing the Blues want to be is shorthanded in Tampa: the Lightning are easily in first place on the powerplay at home with a whopping 41.2% success rate.
The Blues and Lightning finish off their season series tonight in Tampa, with St. Louis looking for the sweep. The Blues are on Fox Sports Midwest tonight at 6pm CT, radio on ESPN 101.1 and streaming on Fox Sports GO.
Walker, Texas (Rampage)
Just before the road trip to Nashville, the Blues announced their second call-up of the season: Nathan Walker and Derrick Pouliot traveled with the team after playing in the AHL with San Antonio. Walker and Pouliot have been incredibly effective in the AHL: Walker is third in the league in goals (12) and points (22), and Pouliot is 5th in assists (14). Now, with just 12 career NHL games under his belt, Walker could get another chance to break out in a Blue Note.
“I think I’m shooting the puck a little more and getting to the dirty areas, I guess,” Walker told the STL Post-Dispatch. “Playing with skillful players (in San Antonio), there’s a lot of good players on that hockey team. They definitely know how to find your stick when you’re in those dirty spots.”
“Walker had a real good (Blues) camp,” Berube said. “Energy. Feistiness. The skating, forechecking, lot of good stuff. He’s doing a great job in the American League.” Standing at just 5’-9”, Walker could prove to be a boost of speed to the Blues game, while Derrick Pouliot provides bottom pairing insurance following Robert Bortuzzo’s 4-game suspension. Both players were healthy scratches against Nashville.
It hasn’t been that long since Kevin Shattenkirk was one of the Blues’ elite blueliners, yet it almost felt that way after he moved to Washington, then New York. After almost 7 full seasons with St. Louis, Shattenkirk was traded to the Capitals late in the season, where they ran into the Penguins. The next season, Shattenkirk would head to his hometown in New York, signing a 4-year, $26.6 million contract with the Rangers.
The turnout, unfortunately, was abysmal: 51 combined points in two seasons and career-worst point shares and ice time. Now signing as a free agent with the Lightning this summer, Shattenkirk has rejuvenated as a player, already scoring 17 points through 21 games.
“I’m having a lot of fun,” Shattenkirk said, per ESPN’s Emily Kaplan. “To get back with a winning team and a team that has that mentality that we can win every game is exciting as a player.”
Shattenkirk, now playing alongside one of the best defenseman in the league in Victor Hedman, feels more like himself as a player again. “How [the Lightning] want us to play with the puck really matched up with my style,” Shattenkirk said. “We’re not called out if you make a mistake, if you try something or join the rush. I came in here, and I wasn’t asked to do anything more than what I know I’m capable of.”
St. Louis ranks 4th on the powerplay on the road, 27%.
David Perron and Brayden Schenn’s goals against Nashville give them points in 4 straight games. Perron has eight points in his last 9.
Justin Faulk played a season-low 16:01 ice time in the shootout loss against Nashville.
Jake Allen has points in every game he has played on the road, going 3-0-2.
The Blues and Bolts face off in Tampa tonight at 7pm ET. To follow all of tonight’s action, head to:
STL: FSMW, ESPN 101.1, Fox Sports GO, NHL.com
TBL: SUNS, WFLA 970, Fox Sports GO, NHL.com
For local Blues stories, recaps, insights and more, visit bluesrants.com!