After four days without a game the Lightning get back to it tonight when they host the San Jose Sharks at the St. Pete Times Forum. Mike Smith is expected to be in goal although both goaltenders came off early today at morning skate. Head Coach Rick Tocchet said Smith had “sharpness to him this week” in practice. “I think he needed to get away from it for a couple days,” Tocchet said. Smith is sure to be tested tonight against the potent Sharks offense.
Kurtis Foster will sit tonight in favor of David Hale. Tocchet really liked the way Hale played in Pittsburgh, calling him “the ultimate depth player” and saying that he played with a lot of grit, which is what the team needs right now. It also shows the reward system that Tocchet has in place. He said this morning that ice time is the one “bullet” coaches have these days and players that earn it will play.
“Guys will be rewarded with ice time,” Tocchet said. “The best guys will play. I think all the guys will show up tonight.”
The most interesting thing to watch tonight will be the newly-formed line of Vincent Lecavalier, Martin St. Louis and James Wright. Even Tocchet said this morning that he’ll have to wait until tonight to make an evaluation of the line. It should be interesting though since Lecavalier and St. Louis have not played with each other in quite some time. For Wright this is a chance to prove he belongs here before he reaches the 10-game deadline before he would need to be returned to juniors.
Tonight is also Go Green Night at the Times Forum. Ride your bike and get in for free or bring an old phone book to recycle and you’ll receive discounted tickets.