Greetings from the Pacific Northwest as the Lightning prepare for tonight's match-up with the Vancouver Canucks to kick off this western Canadian road trip.
It isn't very often that a team opens up its road schedule so far away from home, but the Bolts are set to do just that as they open their road slate on the opposite side of the continent. With that in mind, and with a three hour time change to get used to, Jon Cooper elected to have the team fly to Vancouver a day earlier than normal, arriving on Thursday. The Lightning did the same thing last year when they kicked off a road trip in Vancouver.
With the Canucks playing in Edmonton last night, Tampa Bay took the 10:30 a.m. morning skate time today. Radko Gudas, who has been out with a lower body injury, skated for the first time today prior to the team beginning drills, but came off before the entire team went through drills. Cooper confirmed that he will not be ready to go tonight, although he told media today that he hopes to be ready to go on Monday against Edmonton. With Gudas out, the line-up will remain the same with Mark Barberio sitting out. With Jonathan Drouin in Syracuse for conditioning there are no extra forwards. Ben Bishop gets the start in goal.
Ryan Miller started last night for Vancouver against the Oilers and posted a 28-save shutout. With that, the Lightning expect to see Eddie Lack in net tonight for the Canucks. He has yet to play this season. The Lightning have gotten to him before. Lack has a 0-2-0 record all-time against the Bolts with a 4.13 goals-against average and a .873 save percentage.
After the game tonight Tampa Bay will jump on the plane and head to Edmonton with a practice scheduled at Rexall Place on Sunday.
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Canuck Killer – Steven Stamkos has had a lot of success against Vancouver in his career. In just five games, Stamkos has posted six goals and 10 points with a plus-5 rating.
Family Affair – The Lightning have a number of family ties in the Vancouver area. Cooper's parents have been seen at the team hotel as well as yesterday's practice and today's morning skate. A number of other relatives of the coach were at today's morning skate with Cooper bringing children to the bench after the skate. Eric Brewer, Brett Connolly and Jason Garrison will also have family at the game tonight.