TAMPA Nikita Zaitsev Jersey Kids , Fla. — The Tampa Bay Lighting still have the top spot in the Eastern Conference in their sights when they host the 31st overall team, the Buffalo Sabres, on Friday.
Coming off an impressive victory against the Boston Bruins earlier in the week, the Lightning need to win their final two games — preferably in regulation — to have the chance to overtake Boston for the Atlantic Division title, which also carries home ice advantage throughout the Eastern Conference playoffs.
Tampa Bay’s dominant 4-0 victory over Boston is the model moving forward for the Lightning, not just in the final two regular-season games but looking ahead to the postseason.
“We need to play the same way against everyone,” Lightning defenseman Dan Girardi said after practice on Thursday. “I think that’s where we get into trouble the last month or two, getting up for the big games, then letting down in the other ones. We’re up and down. We’re not playing the same way the whole time. As long as we can follow that effort up from Boston, we’re going in the right direction, for sure.”
The Lightning looked more like the team that was dominant during the early stages of the season http://www.coltsauthorizedshops.com/authentic-tyquan-lewis-jersey , utilizing their team speed, getting pucks behind the opposing defense and establishing a strong forecheck presence. That limited the turnovers and put less pressure on the Tampa Bay defense along with goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy.
“We played a better 200-foot game,” associate coach Rick Bowness said. “There wasn’t nearly as many east-to-west turnovers that just slowed us up and killed our attack. We worked a lot harder for 60 minutes; we stayed with it.”
Buffalo is in the exact opposite position, having already secured the last spot in the league in another lost season for the Sabres.
Under first-year coach Phil Housley, Buffalo showed little improvement in the standings, but hopes strides were made in becoming more cohesive as a team learning a new system.
“I believe in our system,” Housley told The Buffalo News. “I believe in our structure. I believe when we play a brand of game that’s the right way — we’re on top of people and we’re not cheating the game and we’re doing things for the better part of the team — you can see we’re a good hockey team.”
The Sabres have beaten the Lightning twice this season, including an overtime win on Feb. 28 at Amalie Arena, but are just 2-7 in their past nine games, helping plummet the drop to the cellar.
“There’s no secret we’re in last place, and it’s a tough place to be Justin Bethel Color Rush Jersey ,” forward Nick Baptiste told The News. “But there’s only room for improvement. If we can as a group kind of look at ourselves in the mirror and figure out what it is as an individual that you can bring to the table to be better in a team sense, it will help us immensely and improve this team.”
SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (9-7)
New faces: RB Rashaad Penny, OL D.J. Fluker, WR Jaron Brown, WR Brandon Marshall, TE Ed Dickson, TE Will Dissly, DT Tom Johnson, DT Shamar Stephen, LB Barkevious Mingo, LB Shaquem Griffin Jeff Carter Jersey , DE Rasheem Green, QB Brett Hundley, offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer, defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr., offensive line coach Mike Solari.
Key losses: TE Jimmy Graham, WR Paul Richardson, RB Eddie Lacy, DE Michael Bennett, DE Cliff Avril, SS Kam Chancellor, CB Richard Sherman.
Strengths: Despite changes Womens Luke Kuechly Jersey , still have one of best quarterbacks in NFL. Russell Wilson tied career high with 34 TD passes last season. Offense should rely less on Wilson with recommitment to run game. RBs Chris Carson and Penny are major upgrade. Defense will be massively different but still have two of top LBs in Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright.
Weaknesses: Defense has major questions after departures of Richard Sherman, Michael Bennett, Cliff Avril and Kam Chancellor. Holdout of safety Earl Thomas clouded entire preseason. Wagner and Wright provide stability, though Wright may miss start of season after knee surgery. Big issue will be pass rush outside of Frank Clark. Most holes on defense since 2011, last time Seattle finished with below .500 record.
Fantasy Players To Watch: RB Chris Carson. Seattle committed to run under new OC Schottenheimer and with Penny suffering broken finger in preseason, Carson will get bulk of work early. He could be big value selection later in drafts.
Vegas Says: Super Bowl 60-1. Over/under wins 7.5.
Expectations: Seahawks continue to say roster turnover is part of reset — latest move was acquiring backup to Wilson from Green Bay in Brett Hundley — but looks more and more like rebuild. This does not look to be team capable of winning NFC West. Wilson and Wagner give Seattle hope of being competitive in every game, but amount of questions give pause. If new offensive focus clicks and defensive losses aren’t as significant, Seattle could contend for wild-card spot. If concerns about roster prove accurate, could be longest, least successful season of Pete Carroll’s tenure.
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