New Jersey Devils (14-13-1, 29 points) vs Tampa Bay Lightning (12-15-2, 26 points)
7:00 PM EST
Radio: WFAN 660 AM
Tonight will be the second of four matchups between the Lightning and the Devils this season, it will also be the second of two matchups played at the St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa. The two teams last met on November 19 in Tampa with the Devils coming away with a 4-2 victory.
Taormina Looking to Make Most of Second Chance:
Matt Taormina made the Devils out of training camp last year and had three goals and two assists in the Devils’ first 17 games last season. He had appeared to be adapting to NHL play quickly. Then on November 14, 2010, teammate Mattias Tedenby fell on Taormina’s ankle during a practice session which eventually sidelined Taormina for the rest of the season.
Taormina rehabbed throughout the spring and summer and came into training camp, looking for a fresh start. However, a back injury caused Taormina to be sidelined for a week during training camp, which hurt his chances at making the roster. He started the season in Albany.
Now with Andy Greene sidelined for four weeks, and Anton Volchenkov listed as day-to-day, Taormina has gotten a second chance to prove that he belongs in the NHL. He had over 16 minutes of ice time in Saturday’s loss to Montreal, and even had some powerplay time.
Taormina practiced on Sunday with the second powerplay unit, and is expected to play on the unit tonight.
Projected Devils Lineup:
Parise (C) – Henrique – Kovalchuk (A)
Sykora – Elias (A) – Clarkson
Zubrus – Carter – Palmieri
Boulton – Sestito – Tedenby
Talinder – Fayne
Salvador – Larsson
Taormina – Urbom
The Latest on the Tampa Bay Lightning:
In five games so far in the month of December, the Tampa Bay Lightning have come away with only two points out of a possible 10. In those five games, the Lightning have scored first four out of five. However, squandering an early lead has become a Bolt trademark. This was last seen on Saturday when Ryan Shannon gave the Lightning an early 1-0 lead over the Flyers, but the Broad Street Bullies scored three unanswered and never relinquished the lead.
The team is clearly hurting from the absence of all-star Martin St. Louis, who is out indefinitely with facial and nasal fractures after teammate Dominic Moore hit him with a puck during a pre-game skate two games ago.
Lightning head coach Guy Boucher says the difference between last year’s Lightning team and this year’s is the fact that the Lightning are struggling on the man-advantage this season. The Bolts have a 14.7% powerplay success, which is still higher than the Devils; however, with the Devils 93.4% PK, the chances of the Lightning improving their PP tonight is slim to none.
Projected Lightning Lineup:
Malone – Stamkos (A) – Downie
Pyatt – Lecavalier (C) – Purcell
Thompson – Moore – Shannon
Jones – Hall – Tyrell
Hedman – Brewer (A)
Bergeron – Gilroy
Clark – Gervais