As the Lightning team bus arrived at the arena for today’s morning skate, the players and coaches were greeted by a television crew from TSN (Canada’s version of ESPN), who will be broadcasting to all of Canada tonight. Senators home games normally start at 7 p.m., but because of the TSN broadcast, face-off will be 7:30 p.m. Chris Cuthbert and Ray Ferraro wil be broadcasting tonight and they grabbed head coach Rick Tocchet for a little private insight before the Bolts hit the ice for the skate and stretch. Ferraro also spent some private time with General Manager Brian Lawton discussing the Bolts’ busy, productive off-season.
The Lightning, holding down first place in the Southeast Division heading into tonight's game, are beginning to get some national attention for its play in the first five games. Steven Stamkos and Vincent Lecavalier were surrounded by gaggles of reporters looking to figure out what's different between this year and last. I think the universal answer to the media was, "slow down guys, its only been five games." But winning sure beats losing and the Lightning will be looking for its third consecutive win tonight. As previously mentioned here, getting Alex Tanguay and Vincent Lecavalier on the scoresheet are priorities for the team as well, so look for them to use TSN's national Canadian audience as a little more motivation.
Goaltender Mike Smith will be back between the pipes for Tampa Bay, looking to maintain the strong goaltending Tampa he has received from both he and Antero Niittymaki so far this season. Smitty has been solid in his previous two starts, posting a .935 save percentage and a 1.85 goals-against average despite an 0-0-2 record. Kurtis Foster will be in the lineup as well, playing defense in front of some family and friends from the local area.
One last note for tonight; the NHL has asked every team to designate one October home game as an awareness game for its "Hockey Fights Cancer" campaign. The Sens have picked tonight. Lightning Head Coach Rick Tocchet and his staff have agreed to support the effort by wearing the league issued purple Hockey Fights Cancer neckties behind the bench. And if you're curious, the Lightning have designated October 29 for the cause, as local attorney Steve Yerrid brings cancer patients, families and caregivers to the St. Pete Times Forum for the 10th straight year as part of Tampa Fights Cancer week.