There were some tired eyes in the Lightning locker room today as the team assembled for an 11:45 a.m. meeting. The team plane landed just before 2 a.m. last night with the weather just about as cold as it was in New Jersey last night. After the meeting a number of players broke off into a smaller video session that focused on the penalty kill. The Devils were able to score twice with the man advantage last night and it ended up being the difference in the game.
Head Coach Rick Tocchet said the penalty kill, much like the power play, has been suffering from a lack of execution and not scheme. He said it is just a matter of individual players carrying out their coverage properly and he is confident that they can turn it around. They need to if the Lightning want to turn around their fortunes as half of their goals allowed, seven of 14, in the previous four games, have come while shorthanded. As for the power play, assistant coach Adam Oates pointed out that last night there were a number of good chances that were thwarted by broken sticks or the player missing the net. The chances have been there, but again, it comes down to execution. Hopefully playing in front of the home crowd will help tonight.
Mike Smith gets the start in net for the Bolts. He shined in his previous start at home, a 5-1 victory against the New York Rangers, in making 26 saves on 27 shots faced. As for the rest of the line up, we’ll have to wait and see tonight. One thing we do know for sure is that the No. 1 and No. 2 overall picks in the past summer’s draft will see each other on NHL ice for the first time as New York’s John Tavares and the Lightning’s Victor Hedman we go toe-to-toe in a subplot of the Lightning-Islanders game.
Tomorrow the team will attend a holiday party for the Children’s Cancer Center at the Tampa History Center. It is an extremely enjoyable outing for the players and it marks one of the best community relations initiatives of the year for the organization.