The Lightning and Edmonton Oilers will play the first of two meetings this season tonight at Rexall Place here in Alberta. The teams will meet in Tampa Bay on January 15. Tonight’s game is the only one in the NHL so all eyes will be on the Bolts and Oilers. It will be a reunion of sorts as forward Teddy Purcell will be facing off against the Lightning for the first time since being traded to Edmonton on June 29. Purcell took a few of his former teammates out to dinner last night to catch up.
The Bolts got in to Edmonton after Saturday night’s win against the Vancouver Canucks, a win that came at a cost. The Lightning announced today that Victor Hedman will undergo surgery tomorrow to repair a fractured finger on his right hand after blocking a shot in the second period. He is expected to miss 4-6 weeks. It is a big blow for the team, but more importantly it is larger one for Hedman himself. You have to feel for the big Swede after having such a great start he had already garnered a good deal of Norris talk.
With Hedman going on IR and Radko Gudas (lower body) still unavailable, the Lightning did make some roster moves yesterday. The one that caused the biggest stir was the recall of Jonathan Drouin. The forward, and No. 3 overall pick in 2013, played in two games with the Syracuse Crunch over the weekend and recorded a goal and three points. Unfortunately he will not make his NHL debut tonight. Jon Cooper said with a tough travel schedule and playing back-to-back games with the Crunch, they don’t want to force him. He is healthy and available so he could play as early as tomorrow night in Calgary. With Gudas and Hedman out tonight Tampa Bay also recalled defenseman Luke Witkowski. He will be safeguard in case another injury occurs. Mark Barberio draws in to make his 2014-15 debut.
Ben Bishop gets the start tonight. If you recall last year, it was here where he first suffered the wrist injury that was surgically corrected this summer.
Tampa Bay will take the short flight directly south to Calgary after the game in advance of tomorrow night’s game in Cowtown. The Bolts will not have a morning skate.
TV: Sun Sports
Radio: AM 970 WFLA
Stingy D – Through five games this season the Lightning have not allowed more than two goals in regulation. The only game in which they “allowed” more than two was the October 11 shootout loss to Ottawa.
Powering Up – Tampa Bay has scored at least one power play goal in all but one of their five games so far the season. Overall they have converted on seven of 24 opportunities (29.2 percent), good for fourth in the NHL.