NHL on NBCSN doubleheader: Lightning vs. Islanders; Sharks vs. Coyotes
NBCSN will continue its coverage of the 2016-17 campaign with a doubleheader tonight. The New York Islanders host the Tampa Bay Lightning at 7:30 p.m. ET and the Arizona Coyotes host the San Jose Sharks at 10:00 p.m. ET. If you want to watch the early game online, you can do so here. To catch the late game, click here.
The Tampa Bay Lightning got off to a solid start in 2016-17, as they won five of their first six regular season games. But times have been a little tougher during the last few days.
Things seemed to have turned on Thursday night. The Lightning were waiting for the Canadiens in Montreal, while the Habs were playing the first of a back-to-back situation in Brooklyn.
Despite being well-rested, the Bolts ended up losing a 3-1 decision to the Canadiens and it seems to have rattled them.
They followed that up by losing 3-1 to New Jersey on Saturday and were blown out 6-1 by the Rangers on Sunday.
“We have to stop the bleeding as fast as we can,” said Ryan Callahan, per the Tampa Bay Times. “It’s not like we haven’t done it before with this group. It doesn’t concern us that way. But it needs to be better and it needs to be better right now.”
Actually, Callahan’s right. They went through this exactly a year ago.
As beat reporter Joe Smith points out, the team lost three straight in regulation between Oct. 27 and Oct. 31 of last year.
The Bolts will conclude their six-game road trip in Brooklyn tonight. They’ll play four of their next five games at home before taking off for another five-game road trip starting on Nov. 14.
The Islanders have been going through somewhat of a goalie controversy since Saturday, when agent Allan Walsh, who represents Jaroslav Halak and Jean-Francois Berube, tweeted about the team’s desire to keep three goalies on the roster.
“Everyone knows it’s not the ideal situation. I think we’ve been repeating ourselves,” Berube said, per Newsday. “It’s hard to get ready for a game when you don’t have the workload you get when you have your own net. You really don’t have a rhythm in your practice. It is what it is. You have to find some way to get ready.”
Thomas Greiss is expected to start for the Islanders.
In the late game...
The Sharks have been rolling since last week. After dropping a pair of decisions to Pittsburgh and Detroit, they’ve bounced back by winning three in a row against Anaheim, Columbus and Nashville.
San Jose is starting a stretch where they’ll play seven of their next nine games on the road. They’ll play in Arizona tonight before returning home for two games against Calgary and Pittsburgh. After that, they’re away from the Sharks Tank from Nov. 8 through Nov. 19.
They even left for Arizona earlier than usual so that they can enjoy some team bonding activities.
“Guys in here know each other really well. I don’t know if we can get any closer than where we are right now,” said defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic, per CSN Bay Area. “But, [when] you have some new faces, it’s always fun to have a night [with] just the 23 guys on the team.”
The season couldn’t have opened much worse for Arizona. They’ve managed to collect just two wins (both against Philadelphia) so far and have won just once in their last seven contests.
Losing starter Mike Smith hasn’t helped either. Both Louis Domingue and Justin Peters have struggled to fill Smith’s shoes.
One specific area that the ‘Yotes would like to improve is the special teams. Their power play currently ranks 28th at 10.7 percent and their PK is 27th at 72.4 percent.
“Special teams decide the game a lot of the time,” defenseman Alex Goligoski said, The Arizona Republic. “It has a few games for us. I think we’re penalty killing too much, and that’s usually a problem. It’s tough to kill off (chances) when you’ve killed five, six or more. But power play, we’re executing pretty good a lot of the time. We can still get a lot more stuff to the net and create some chaos down there.”