The Lightning will enjoy home cooking for one more night tonight before heading off on a six-game, 12-day road trip as the Edmonton Oilers come calling to the St. Pete Times Forum. Tampa Bay will be looking to turn around their recent fortunes after a stretch of 1-4-0 in their recent five, including a 3-0 loss to the Washington Capitals on Monday. Toward the end of the loss Head Coach Rick Tocchet benched a number of key players and there will be subsequent line changes tonight.
Most notably, Steve Downie and Paul Szczechura will receive a big promotion as they will move up to the second line with Steven Stamkos. Tocchet has praised Downie and Szczechura of late. Downie specifically, saying he has been one of the team’s best players in the previous six games. Tocchet said the forward has gotten better each day since training camp and has really developed as a player. It will be interesting how that line plays tonight. They will certainly bring a lot of speed and tenacity to the game.
In some other line-up changes, Todd Fedoruk will see his first game action since November 21 at Carolina. He has two goals and three points this season. Tocchet said Fedoruk has done and said the right things as he waited for his turn back in the line-up. The coach wants him to be a presence along the boards and in front of the net. Mike Smith will get the start in the nets for the Lightning. Smitty lost his first game in regulation at home on Monday and will be looking to rebound. Overall, Smith has been very good at home this season, posting a 4-2-1 record, a .939 save percentage and a 1.81 goals-against average at the St. Pete Times Forum.
Tocchet said the team had a great practice yesterday and had a great attitude today. “It’s a new day. Hopefully the guys are ready to go,” he said.
The Lightning will practice in Brandon tomorrow before heading to Denver for a showdown with the Avalanche on Friday.