NHL Game Night 3/20: Lightning at Penguins

It'll all be worth it when Steve Stamkos is a Bolt.

TB-2
PIT-4

Mike Smith allowed 4 goals on 23 shots for the loss.

Matt Smaby was even in 9:13 with 2 hits and 3 blocked shots. Again, I thought he had a good first period in which he made a made a really nice block on a point shot and a really strong hit along the boards. In the second period his group got hemmed in a lot and although he wasn't terrible there were times he was floating a bit down low defensively. At one point, his pairing partner Mike Lundin had to bail him out. The general reviews were fair. The speed at the NHL level doesn't seem to be scaring him as much this go round, and he seems to be moving the puck crisply and efficiently. And, yes, he's still occassionally laying the wood to people which is the special characteristic that really stands him out from the crowd, in my opinion. This is a big audition for Smaby right now. With Alex Picard playing so well, it could make someone like Brad Lukowich or even Filip Kuba expendable if Smaby can step up and show he's ready to be the #7 defenseman in Tampa next year. Those millions could potentially be better spent on some second line scoring help. The key is going to be if Smaby improves in the coming games and if he can get his ice time to increase. The opportunity is there with Paul Ranger banged up. He needs to step up and close the sale.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

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Need to Note This

Jeff Halpern went out of the game last night with an abdominal strain. Add that to his sore back. And the Bolts have used all of their 4 discretionary call ups. They can still do emergency call ups. If Halpern is on the shelf for the balance of the season, I look for Blair Jones to get the call. If he does, due to the lack of manpower in Tampa, he will get more than his usual seconds on the ice.

There is no depth in this system right now and this shows it.

With Ranger and Halpern

With Ranger and Halpern potentially out for the balance, there's nothing really stopping the Lightning from calling a forward or a defenseman. It's totally to Feaster's discretion. That rule can be easily circumvented.

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