The Tampa Bay Lightning have their home opener on tap tonight, after beginning the season with five straight road games, a stretch which marked their longest road trip of their season.
The delayed homecoming was a result of a $40 million dollar renovation to their home arena, the St. Pete Times Forum, which is still underway.
After the surprising success of 2010-11, the team departed confidently, but after compiling a 1-2-2 record they return to Tampa a bit humbled, toting a four-game losing streak -- which equals the longest winless streak of last season.
"It's tough -- five games on the road and two final preseason games away," forward Martin St. Louis said. "It's hard to win in this League."
Coach Guy Boucher also commented on the frustrations inherent in an early road trek.
"We've just played seven games on the road (including the final 2 preseason games). That's very difficult. We could have returned here 0-5," Boucher said. "It's tough to be on the road and be in experimental mode. That's what we are in -- we've got some new guys trying to find where they fit in. That all funnels down. There is a process and we respect the process and also try to accelerate it."
Here are the projected lineups for Monday night's game between the Lightning and the Florida Panthers:
Martin St. Louis - Steven Stamkos - Steve Downie
Ryan Malone - Vincent Lecavalier - Teddy Purcell
Ryan Shannon - Dominic Moore - Brett Connolly
Adam Hall - Nate Thompson - Mattias Ritola
Victor Hedman - Eric Brewer
Brett Clark - Pavel Kubina
Marc-Andre Bergeron - Matt Gilroy
Dwayne Roloson is expected to start in goal with Mathieu Garon serving as the backup.
Tomas Fleischmann - Stephen Weiss - Kris Versteeg
David Booth - Tomas Kopecky - Scottie Upshall
Sean Bergenheim - Marcel Goc - Jack Skille
Shawn Matthias - Ryan Carter - Matt Bradley
Ed Jovanovski - Erik Gudbranson
Brian Campbell - Mike Weaver
Jason Garrison - Dmitry Kulikov
Jose Theodore is expected to start in goal with Jacob Markstrom serving as the backup.