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Posted On Saturday, 03.10.2012 / 1:50 PM

By Lonnie Herman - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Lightning ready for critical homestand

TAMPA - The Tampa Bay Lightning opens a season-long seven game homestand Saturday night which could make or break their season.

The Lightning, who play host to the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday night at the Tampa Bay Times Forum, have closed the gap to three points between themselves and the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

Home has been good to Tampa Bay all season; they have compiled a 20-10-2 record on their home ice, and the players know the weight of these next seven.

“We’ve pointed to this homestand for quite a while,” Marin St. Louis said.  “We know what it means and what we have to do. I think the guys in this room are ready.”

Lightning coach Guy Boucher, however, wanted to down-play the importance.

“There’s no added pressure because we’ve been saying that since Christmas,” Boucher said.  “This game, that game, this homestand -- we played against the top team, the lowest team. There’s always a reason why that game is so important. Tonight it’s one game and, yes, it is a homestand, but we can’t think of the homestand. That’s seven games. That’s a lot of games. That’s two weeks; a lot of things will be done in those two weeks. Tonight, the first ten minutes against Carolina will be our focus. That’s how we’ve been going at it.”

And clearly they have gotten results with their one-game-at-a time viewpoint.

“We used to be, a month ago, 13 points behind Florida for the lead in the Southeast Division at one point; nine points behind Washington for the final playoff spot,” Boucher said. “We’ve caught up a lot but we’ve caught up a lot because we didn’t focus on those things; we didn’t focus on the standings and on intangible things that we don’t control. We focused on what we need to improve. Last game, we were up 2-1 and we weren’t smart in clearing the puck from our zone. That’s what is important. It has nothing to do with Carolina or any other team in front of us. Those are the things that matter to us.”

Dustin Tokarski will make his second start for Tampa Bay after being called up from Norfolk once Mathieu Garon went down with a groin injury.

Tokarski aquitted himself well against the Washington Capitals on Thursday night despite taking the loss 3-2 in overtime.

“You never want to be happy with a loss but I think I made the saves I had,” Tokarski said. “I made a couple of tougher ones and I would have liked to make another big save for the guys and get the win but I thought I stayed fairly calm and played my simple game; compact and no rebounds.”

Carolina trails the Lightning by four points and has hit a rough patch in their attempt to climb back into the postseason hunt, winning only two of their last seven games. They are in the middle of an extended road trip and have not fared very well on the road this season, going 8-14-9.

This meeting concludes the series between these two clubs, with Tampa Bay having won three of the previous five matchups.

Here are the projected lineups:


Anthony Stewart - Eric Staal - Jiri Tlusty
Jeff Skinner - Jussi Jokinen - Chad LaRose
Patrick Dwyer - Brandon Sutter - Andreas Nodl
Derek Joslin - Tim Brent - Jerome Samson

Tim Gleason - Bryan Allen
Jay Harrison - Justin Faulk
Jaroslav Spacek - Jamie McBain

Cam Ward
Brian Boucher


Martin St. Louis - Steven Stamkos - Teddy Purcell
Ryan Malone - Nate Thompson - Adam Hall
JT Wyman - Tom Pyatt - Brett Connolly
Ryan Shannon - Tim Wallace - Brandon Segal

Victor Hedman - Eric Brewer
Brett Clark - Brian Lee
Mike Commodore - Brendan Mikkelson

Dustin Tokarski
Dwayne Roloson

Posted On Tuesday, 03.06.2012 / 1:35 PM

By Lonnie Herman - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Bolts could get Hedman back for 'must-win' vs. Sens

TAMPA -- The Tampa Bay Lightning host the Ottawa Senators tonight at the Tampa Bay Times Forum, and for the Lightning, much more than just their four game home win-streak is on the line.

"Every game now is a 'must-win.' Yeah, they are," Tampa Bay goalie Mathieu Garon said. "This team (Ottawa) is sitting ahead of us and the next game, too (against Washington on Thursday). They are all really important, and it’s going to be that way until the end of the year."

With the Lightning sitting just four points out of the final playoff position, each remaining game takes on an increased level of urgency, and Tuesday's opponent makes the task that much more difficult.

"They have our number and always find a way to get us," Lightning coach Guy Boucher said. "It's been real tough to play against them."

Tuesday's game is the fourth and final meeting between the Lightning and the Senators this season, and Ottawa has won all three previous games, holding Tampa Bay to only three goals total.

"Every game is a new game, and every game you try to bring something new," Boucher said. "We do adjustments during the periods and between periods. There has to be and there will be."

The report on the injury front for Tampa Bay was mixed. The Lightning have been without captain Vincent Lecavalier, sidelined with a fractured hand for the last seven games, and Victor Hedman, out with an upper-body injury for the previous four. It appeared likely that at least one of the pair would return Tuesday.

"Hedman? I hope he plays," Boucher said. "We're waiting for the OK from the doctor. But he feels great and he's ready to go."

Hedman said that he was anxious to get back on the ice, but he sounded a cautious note.

"We'll see. We're 99.9 percent certain, but there is still a chance I might not play. We'll see after this afternoon," he said. "I'm excited to play, but still, we have to make sure that I'm really 100 percent before I play. These are important games and you can't be halfway. I feel 100 percent, but we'll see after this afternoon."

The news for Lecavalier was not as optimistic.

"Vinny is not ready yet at all," Boucher said. "When? I couldn't say, to be honest with you. As much as I would love to spend time waiting for Vinny, I think right now we have to focus on the players who are here and the ones who have come up from the AHL to help us."

Also out with an upper-body injury is defenseman Bruno Gervais.

The Senators have enjoyed a six-game winning streak and another run of nine games without a regulation loss during the season, but they arrive in Tampa with back-to-back losses.

Ben Bishop, just recalled from Ottawa's AHL affiliate in Binghampton, will make his debut in the net for the Senators. Bishop was obtained for a second-round pick in the 2013 draft in a trade deadline deal with the St. Louis Blues.

"I'm excited," Bishop said. "It's nice to meet everyone, but I have to get down to business in a couple of hours. If someone tells you that they are not nervous in this situation, they'd be lying to you. But once the puck drops, I'll be fine."

Tuesday's morning skate was the first time Ottawa coach Paul MacLean got a live look at his new goaltender.

"He's a big guy," MacLean said of the 6-foot-7 netminder. "He's got good hands and covers lots of the net. We're looking forward to having him play and seeing what he can do."

Erik Karlsson reacted to his $2,500 fine for his hit on Sean Bergenheim during Sunday's 4-2 loss to the Florida Panthers.

"It is what it is," Karlsson said. "I can't change it right now. It was a bad play by me."

Karlsson said he spoke with Brendan Shanahan, NHL Senior VP for Player Safety, about the fine.

"I told him I understood," Karlsson said.

Here's how tonight's lineups project:

Milan Michalek - Jason Spezza - Colin Greening
Nick Foligno - Kyle Turris - Daniel Alfredsson
Rob Klinkhammer - Zack Smith - Chris Neil
Erik Condra - Kaspars Daugavins - Jim O'Brien

Filip Kuba - Erik Karlsson
Jared Cowen - Sergei Gonchar
Chris Phillips - Matt Gilroy

Ben Bishop
Alex Auld


Martin St. Louis - Steven Stamkos - Teddy Purcell
Ryan Malone - Nate Thompson - JT Wyman
Tom Pyatt - Adam Hall - Brett Connolly
Ryan Shannon - Tim Wallace

Eric Brewer - Victor Hedman
Brian Lee - Mike Commodore
Brendan Mikkelson - Brett Clark
Keith Aulie

Mathieu Garon
Dwayne Roloson

Posted On Friday, 03.02.2012 / 4:07 PM

By Lonnie Herman - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Lundqvist back in net for Rangers

TAMPA, Fla. -- The New York Rangers arrived here with a nine-point lead in the Eastern Conference standings following their win Thursday against the Carolina Hurricanes. They enter Friday's game with three consecutive wins and the second-best road record (20-8-4) in the NHL.

The Rangers start Henrik Lundqvist to start in net Friday after Martin Biron started Thursday's game. Lundqvist leads the League in save percentage (.940) and shutouts (eight).

"We don't have a top-10 scorer or a team that can strike fast," Rangers center Brad Richards said. "So we rely on our goaltender. Lundqvist has been the best in the NHL this season."

Richards, a key member of the Lightning's Stanley-Cup winning 2004 club who also has played for the Dallas Stars, said he's noticed a different playing for an Original Six team.

"We see (Rangers) fans everywhere we play," Richards said. "There are more rivalries involved."

Richards has been riding the subway to home games since he did so Feb. 9, and then scored the overtime goal in a 4-3 win against the Lightning.

"It's 14 minutes from my apartment to (Madison Square) Garden," Richards said. "One stop."

Unlike the Lightning, the Rangers are assured a spot in the post-season, but don't ask any of them to look ahead. That's against the rules as long as John Tortorella is in charge.

"We're not allowed to talk about the playoffs," Richards said. "We keep it in the present."

We had the Lightning lineup earlier; here is what the Rangers' likely will put on the ice tonight:

Artem Anisimov - Derek Stepan - Marian Gaborik
Carl Hagelin - Brad Richards - Ruslan Fedotenko
Brandon Dubinsky - Brian Boyle - Brandon Prust
John Scott - John Mitchell - Mike Rupp

Ryan McDonagh - Dan Girardi
Michael Del Zotto - Anton Stralman
Marc Staal - Stu Bickel

Henrik Lundqvist will start in goal, with Martin Biron the backup.
Posted On Friday, 03.02.2012 / 2:27 PM

By Lonnie Herman - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Purcell turning in top-line performance

TAMPA, Fla. -- Playing on the first-line with Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis, Teddy Purcell is riding a career-best seven-game point-scoring streak. In four games last week, Purcell had 3 goals and 7 assists.

"Purcell has been terrific for the last 20 games, so I'm sure he wants to keep it going," said Lightning coach Guy Boucher. "He's reached the level of play we were hoping we would get from him at the beginning of the year, because of how he ended last year in the playoffs. For some reason he didn't start so well and it took until Christmas to see the best of him. I don't want it to end."

Purcell was a surprise standout for the Lightning in the playoffs last season with 17 points in 18 games. His 17 goals in 62 games this season match the career-best total he had in 82 games last season.
Posted On Friday, 03.02.2012 / 2:24 PM

By Lonnie Herman - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Latest Lightning challenge -- East-best Rangers

TAMPA, Fla. -- Six points out of a playoff spot with 19 games remaining, the Tampa Bay Lightning have battled a variety of plagues as they try to stay in the race.

There have been injuries to mainstays like Vincent Lecavalier, Victor Hedman and Marc-Andre Bergeron; trades with took three popular players out of the locker room; and most recently a flu bug which forced the team to use six AHL call-ups for Tuesday's game against Montreal. However, through all that, the Lightning have won five of their last seven games, including four straight at home.

Their next challenge arrives Friday as the New York Rangers visit the Tampa Bay Times Forum for the fourth and final meeting this season (7:30 p.m., NHLN-US).

While the Rangers provide one type of challenge, it appears another one seems to have moved on.

"I think everyone is healthy," Lightning coach Guy Boucher said regarding the flu virus. "I'm afraid to say for certain because there is still half-a-day left until we play."

Keith Aulie, acquired from Toronto at the trade deadline, will make his Lightning debut Friday. He was one of three blueliners -- along with Mike Commodore and Brian Lee -- the team acquired Monday. Commodore and Lee made their debuts with the team in Tuesday's win against Montreal.

"I thought Commodore and Lee played great last game," Boucher said. "Lee had a few solid body checks; Commodore, too. That was really welcome. We have been a smaller, skill-type of defensive team concerning our defensive corps, and it was good to see size and aggressiveness. They are welcome on our team; they are really good additions."

Here's what the rest of the Lightning lineup could look like tonight:

Teddy Purcell - Steven Stamkos - Martin St. Louis
Ryan Malone - Adam Hall - Tim Wallace
Tom Pyatt - Nate Thompson - JT Wyman
Brandon Segal - Brett Connolly

Eric Brewer - Brett Clark
Mike Commodore - Brian Lee
Bruno Gervais - Brendan Mikkelson
Keith Aulie

Mathieu Garon will start in goal, with Dwayne Roloson the backup.
Posted On Tuesday, 02.28.2012 / 2:09 PM

By Lonnie Herman - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Potenial lineups for Canadiens, Lightning

TAMPA, Fla. -- Here are the lineups the Canadiens and Lightning could use when the teams take the ice at the Tampa Bay Times Forum tonight.

A stomach virus and a slew of roster changes has Lightning coach Guy  Boucher unsure of what his lineups could look like.

"I don't know who's going to play tonight," Boucher said. "We'll just see what we put on the ice."

Max Pacioretty - David Desharnais - Erik Cole
Blake Geoffrion - Tomas Plekanec - Ryan White
Rene Bourque - Lars Eller - Ryan White
Petteri Nokelainen - Scott Gomez - Brad Staubitz

Josh Georges - P.K. Subban
Alexei Emelin - Raphael Diaz
Tomas Kaberle - Chris Campoli

Carey Price will start in goal, with Peter Budaj the backup.

Ryan Malone - Steven Stamkos - Martin St. Louis
JT Wyman - Adam Hall - Tom Pyatt
Mike Angelidis - Brett Connolly - Tim Wallace
Pierre-Cedric Labrie - Brandon Segal - Trevor Smith

Eric Brewer - Brett Clark
Mike Commodore - Brian Lee
Evan Oberg - Bruno Gervais

Mathieu Garon will start in goal, with Dwayne Roloson the backup.
Posted On Tuesday, 02.28.2012 / 1:34 PM

By Lonnie Herman - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Boucher unsure what kind of team he'll have tonight

TAMPA, Fla. -- When Tampa Bay Lightning coach Guy Boucher surveyed the locker room after Tuesday's morning skate, he saw an unusual collection of players. There was Mike Commodore and Brian Lee, two defensemen obtained Monday at the trade deadline; Tim Wallace, claimed on waivers Feb 23; and three call-ups from AHL Norfolk -- Brandon Segal, Mike Angelidis and Trevor Smith. Not yet present, but en route from Norfolk, was Evan Oberg.

Missing were Vincent Lecavalier, who will miss his fifth consecutive game Tuesday with a fractured hand; Ryan Shannon and Victor Hedman, both sidelined with upper-body injuries; and Teddy Purcell, Nate Thompson and Brendan Mikkelson, all ill with a stomach virus. The virus also hit assistant coach Marty Raymond, who was sent home from practice.

"I've never seen anything like it," Boucher said.

The Lightning open a two-game homestand Tuesday when they host the Montreal Canadiens at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.

Hanging on to their playoff hopes just six points out of the final post-season spot, Boucher will send out a mixed bag of players, some of whom he knows and some of whom he never has seen on the ice before.

"I don't know who's going to play tonight," Boucher said. "We'll just see what we put on the ice."

On the ice for certain will be two of the three defensemen acquired Monday. Keith Aulie, obtained from the Toronto Maple Leafs, is awaiting a visa, but Commodore and Lee were given a crash course on the Lightning game plan before the morning skate.

"We went over a lot of information; a lot to digest this morning," Lee said. "I'll try to pick it all up this afternoon and then come back and be ready for the game. There are different systems and ideologies here, but at the end of the day, it's still hockey."

Commodore, joining his seventh NHL team in 11 seasons, will be ready to go, but admitted he didn't get much rest Monday.

"I couldn't sleep, so I got to bed around 3 a.m. I was in Tampa by 11 p.m. but I couldn't fall asleep," Commodore said. "A lot happened yesterday. I had a couple of hours to get things packed and catch a flight. Hopefully, I'll get a nap today and be ready to go.

"We had a meeting and the coach went over some stuff, just keeping it simple. From what I've taken from everything this morning, from the coaches to the new gear to not playing in a month, I'm just going to keep it real simple tonight. That will be the number-one thing that I do."

Boucher planned to play his newcomers in tandem on the ice Tuesday.

"We'll play Commodore and Lee together," Boucher said, "since they both won't know what's happening. We'll try to help them both at the same time."

Commodore said the pairing will be "a work in progress."
Posted On Tuesday, 02.21.2012 / 1:09 PM

By Lonnie Herman - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Life without Lecavalier latest challenge for Lightning

TAMPA -- The loss of captain Vincent Lecavalier from the Tampa Bay Lightning lineup is just another blow the team must try to overcome in fighting to get back to the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"We've been getting slapped all year, so why change it now?" Lightning coach Guy Boucher said. "It's not for the next two or three days, it's more than that. He's out indefinitely because we can’t put a date on when he’ll be back, but it certainly won't be tomorrow."

The Lightning captain sustained an upper-body injury during Tampa Bay's win over the Washington Capitals on Saturday night, and was unable to practice on Monday. Tests left no doubt as to the severity of the injury.

"There is no gray area," Lecavalier said. "Obviously when I come back is kind of a gray area, but the tests showed definitely that there are no gray areas."

For the Lightning, the timing couldn't be worse. The team wraps up a homestand Tuesday night against the Anaheim Ducks during which they made strides to close the gap to qualify for postseason play. Tampa Bay has gone 9-3-2 over the last 14-game stretch and is currently just six points out of the final playoff spot. That’s as close as the Lightning have been to a playoff spot since Dec. 31.

The Lightning have been plagued by injuries all season, at one point playing a month without nine of their regulars. But through the team's resurgence and playoff push, their big three of Steven Stamkos, Martin St. Louis and Lecavalier have been a constant presence.

Now, that's changed.

"Obviously, the biggest thing is that we're playing really well as a team right now and everyone has stepped up his game in this last month," Lecavalier said. "Obviously the beginning of the season wasn't what we wanted, but we've really pulled together, it seems, since January. That's the part of the year that you want to be part of something and there with the guys; every single game is a playoff game so you want to be part of that. Unfortunately, I won't be able to."

The Ducks are an equally hungry opponent who are on the periphery of the Western Conference playoff picture, but they have been making some strong advances of late.

"They did the same thing last year," Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau said. "They're good players and they realized the situation and rallied."

Anaheim arrives at the Tampa Bay Times Forum with a 15-2-4 record in the past 21 games and has climbed to within five points of a playoff berth. The Ducks are on the tail end of an eight-game road trip, their longest of the season, during which they have managed to snag at least a point in each game. Tuesday night they will be after their first 10-game point streak since 2007. If they get it, the points will come at the expense of a Tampa Bay club that is scrambling.

"Our lines will change; our lineup is thinner so the danger, obviously, is that the other team wears you out, so we'll have to manage our top guys and the third and fourth lines so that we have energy but don't get worn out come the third period," Boucher said. "Stamkos and St. Louis are going to sleep on the ice, that's obvious, but we'll try to manage it so that they can maintain 60 minutes of solid play."

Here's how the lineups project for tonight's game:

Jason Blake - Ryan Getzlaf - Corey Perry
Bobby Ryan - Saku Koivu - Teemu Selanne
Matt Beleskey - Nick Bonino - Andrew Cogliano
Niklas Hagman - Rod Pelley - George Parros

Francois Beauchemin - Cam Fowler
Luca Sbisa - Lubomir Visnovsky
Toni Lydman - Sheldon Brookbank

Jonas Hiller
Jeff Deslauriers


Ryan Malone - Tom Pyatt - Martin St. Louis
Steve Downie - Steven Stamkos - Teddy Purcell
Ryan Shannon - Trevor Smith - JT Wyman
Nate Thompson - Adam Hall - Brett Connolly

Eric Brewer - Victor Hedman
Brett Clark - Matt Gilroy
Brendan Mikkelson - Bruno Gervais

Dwayne Roloson
Mathieu Garon

Posted On Saturday, 02.18.2012 / 12:52 PM

By Lonnie Herman - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Caps, Lighting face critical contest

The Washington Capitals and the Tampa Bay Lightning meet for the fourth time this season Saturday night at Tampa Bay Times Forum.

Both clubs are on the outside looking in at the post-season though the Capitals, coming off a 2-1  win over the Florida Panthers on Friday night, have the better prospects sitting just one point out of the final playoff spot.

For the Lightning, it’s another “do or die” game, as they continue their four-game homestand after an overtime win Thursday night against the San Jose Sharks. They are currently eight points from the playoff picture, and in the middle of what appears to be a look toward the future from management.
On Thursday morning, Pavel Kubina was removed from the lineup pending a trade, and just minutes before the faceoff against San Jose, Dominic Moore was sent to the Sharks in exchange for a second-round draft pick.

Despite the changes, Lightning coach Guy Boucher is determined to push those distractions aside.

“Instead of taking me five minutes to refocus, it takes 10,” Boucher said. “The reality is that when trades happen guys come in and out, the focus has to be on how will we replace that guy, not on how the situation will hurt for the next few days.

“Kubina is not here now; Moore is not here, so the focus is, who is going to take care of that spot? So, we have to act fast and make sure that person understands the job. The more we cry about whatever, the more we get away from our job, which is to teach.”

One subject Boucher will be teaching about is how to stop Troy Brouwer, who has scorched the Lightning for five goals in their last three meetings.

Troy Brouwer, yeah – there are a lot of guys we have to watch out for on that team,” Boucher said.

Washington coach Dale Hunter will make sure Tampa Bay sees plenty of Brouwer tonight.

“Everybody gets a hot hand against some team,” Hunter said. “Troy gets enough time as it is, but he might have to get an extra shift or two.”

Here are the projected lineups for both teams:


Alex Ovechkin - Marcus Johansson - Troy Brouwer
Jason Chimera - Mathieu Perreault - Alexander Semin
Jay Beagle - Brooks Laich - Mike Knuble
Matt Hendricks - Jeff Halpern - Joel Ward

Karl Alzner - John Carlson
Jeff Schultz - Dennis Wideman
Roman Hamrlik - Dmitry Orlov

Tomas Vokoun
Michal Neuvirth


Tom Pyatt - Vincent Lecavalier - Martin St. Louis
Steve Downie - Steven Stamkos - Teddy Purcell
Ryan Malone - Nate Thompson - JT Wyman
Ryan Shannon - Adam Hall - Brett Connolly

Eric Brewer - Victor Hedman
Brett Clark - Matt Gilroy
Brendan Mikkelson - Bruno Gervais

Mathieu Garon
Dwayne Roloson
Posted On Thursday, 02.16.2012 / 1:46 PM

By Lonnie Herman - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Lightning prepare for Sharks without Kubina

TAMPA – What’s 847 days between friends?

That’s how long it has been since the San Jose Sharks visited Tampa Bay, and no team in the NHL has currently gone longer. But that number resets after Thursday night when the Sharks face the Lightning at Tampa Bay Times Forum.

As if to make up for lost time, San Jose arrived in Tampa on Monday and has had several days to adjust to the weather, and although the Sharks are in game two of a season-long eight-game road trip, the outlook looks much stormier for Tampa Bay.

“Let’s say it like it is: last year and this year we looked like pee-wees against them,” Lightning coach Guy Boucher said.

The Sharks defeated the Lightning earlier this season in San Jose 7-2.

“They have been very good on the power play so we have to stay out of the box for sure,” Boucher said. “We’ve got to keep it tight; obviously, if it’s one goal, it’s one goal, but we don’t want to catch up on two or three goals against these guys, that’s for sure. That would be very difficult.”

The Lightning are preparing to play without defenseman Pavel Kubina, who is being kept off the ice pending the completion of a trade, general manager Steve Yzerman announced Thursday.

“Every day is tough; days like this are tougher,” Boucher said.  “Obviously, Kubina is a good man, a good person, and he’s played hard for us.

“People talk about a business but for me it’s never about a business, it’s about winning and players on the ice and building players off the ice. (Kubina) has done a good job with us. I don’t know who or what as to where he’s going but I do feel for him because I do care about our players. But at the same time, if he does go to a Stanley Cup contender, I think it’s a good opportunity for him. But I have no clue – none – as to decisions and directions. That’s all that I have to say on the record for that.”

Tampa Bay is fighting for its playoff lives, but the decision to move Kubina could signal the opening salvo in a wholesale sell-off as the team re-tools for the future.

Yzerman said that is not necessarily the case.

 “This doesn’t make it official that, ‘Hey, the sale is on,’ by any means,” Yzerman said. “We’re not just going to give people away, but if there are deals that make sense that whatever we are bringing in in return make us a better organization, we’re going to do that, but we won’t just unload guys for the sake of unloading.

“We’re making our decisions on a player-by-player basis, or an opportunity-by-opportunity basis and we see potential opportunity to improve our club. The broader strategy is that we want to be a better team in the future and we’ll look at any opportunity that will make us a better team in the future. That is our strategy. We want to be a Cup contender at some point and we’re going to have to do some things to become that.”
The Lightning face a legitimate Cup contender in the Sharks, currently in third place in the Western Conference, although they are facing a difficult stretch in their schedule which will see the team on the road for 12 of their next 16 games.

“It’s only getter tougher,” Dan Boyle said. “But, we are where we want to be right now.”

Here are the projected lineups for the Sharks and Lightning:


Patrick Marleau - Joe Thornton -Joe Pavelski
Ryane Clowe - Logan Couture - Tommy Wingels
Jamie McGinn - Michal Handzus - Torrey Mitchell
Brad Winchester - Andrew Desjardins - John McCarthy

Dan Boyle - Marc-Edouard Vlasic
Douglas Murray - Brent Burns
Colin White - Justin Braun

Antti Niemi
Thomas Greiss


Ryan Malone - Vincent Lecavalier - Martin St. Louis
Steve Downie - Steven Stamkos - Teddy Purcell
Tom Pyatt - Dominic Moore - Brett Connolly
Adam Hall - Nate Thompson - JT Wyman

Eric Brewer - Victor Hedman
Brett Clark - Matt Gilroy
Brendan Mikkelson - Bruno Gervais
Dwayne Roloson
Mathieu Garon

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— Senators forward Mike Hoffman when asked if his two-goal game was a good way to celebrate his 26th birthday
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