The Lightning had a good practice today in preparation for tomorrow’s game against Ottawa Senators. Some of the drills focused on battling in front of the net and special teams. Head Coach Rick Tocchet has continually said that he wanted to use these extra days between games to sort of extend his training camp. With the level of skating and “battle drills” the team has been put through Tuesday and Wednesday both this week and last, it appears that Tocchet has been true to his word. It has looked exactly like a training camp with players skating in various patterns in smaller groups. Multiple players have expressed how tiring the workouts have been. Hopefully the hard work and the extra instruction will translate to continued success on the ice.
Tocchet said today that Mike Smith will get the start in net for the third consecutive game. Smitty has been good in his previous two games, both at home, posting a 1-0-1 record with a 1.92 goals-against average and a .939 save percentage. He looked good in the shootout on Saturday too, stopping five of six shots faced. It also sounds like Matt Smaby may make his season debut. Smaby was sent to Norfolk on October 7 for conditioning. He played in three games with the Admirals before suffering an upper body injury and returning to Tampa. Tocchet said he “had a couple good practices” this week. Smaby brings an element of toughness to the game after leading all Lightning defensemen in his last year with 122 hits.
Before practice today Tampa Police Chief Jane Castor addressed the team in the locker room. She thanked them and the staff for their involvement with the charity game benefiting the family Cpl. Mike Roberts held on August 30 during Fan Fest 2009.
Don’t forget to wear your yellow tomorrow, or pick some up at the Times Forum, as the game is the 10th Annual Tampa Bay Fights Cancer Night. The event benefits the Lightning Foundation and the Yerrid Foundation. Just a little note, the Lightning are 9-0-0 all-time on Tampa Bay Fights Cancer Night, so hopefully that trend will continue.