The Lightning held a 10:30 a.m. pre-game skate today at the St. Pete Times Forum. It was an optional skate with a few guys electing to not skate, but for the most part everyone participated. Tonight’s opponent, the Ottawa Senators, are coming off a 4-3 win against the Florida Panthers last night. They jumped all over Tampa Bay early and often in the most recent meeting between the teams on October 15, winning 7-1, at Scotiabank Place. The game is still fresh in everyone’s minds and Head Coach Rick Tocchet hopes to use that as motivation.
“Memory can serve well as motivation for an individual,” Tocchet said.
Yesterday I said it sounded like there was a chance Matt Smaby would crack the line-up today and skate in his first game of the season. Weeeeell, the coaching staff has elected to go with David Hale. Hale has played well and certainly deserves his chance to play. Smaby continues to practice well and should get his chance soon. Also, as I said yesterday, Mike Smith will be between the pipes for the third straight game.
In an interesting new twist on the forward lines, it appears as though Alex Tanguay will start the game with Steven Stamkos and Ryan Malone. Tocchet admitted Tanguay was struggling to find his game for a couple games but has found his way as of late. “If Alex finds his game, that could be a successful line for us,” Tocchet said.
Tocchet also talked briefly about the importance of closing out games, which the Lightning has had problems with at times this season, “If you’re up 2-1 and you have chances, you have to make it 3-1. You just have to put the game away.”
Also, tonight is a 7 p.m. game due to national broadcast in Canada on TSN. It is also Tampa Bay Fights Cancer Night benefitting the Lightning Foundation and the Yerrid Foundation, so get here early and check out all the great activities. And don’t forget to wear yellow, the color of hope. In case you missed it, the Lightning are 9-0-0 all-time on Tampa Bay Fights Cancer Night.