The Lightning line up will be the same was Wednesday tonight as they take on the New York Rangers in a post-Thanksgiving contest. Rick Tocchet said today that the team needs to be more mentally sharp and alert than they were on Wednesday. He explained his displeasure with the Lightning's sloppy play through the neutral zone and admitted that it may have been due to Wednesday being their first game back at home after a long road trip. Tocchet said there are going to be games when players are not their best, but the key is simplifying their game to get out of it. "The real good players can get back on the train," Tocchet said. "We're looking for that pattern tonight."
The only change from Wednesday will be in between the pipes as Mike Smith will get the start. It will be his first home start since October 29 when he made 21 saves on 23 shots faced in a 5-2 win against Ottawa.
Mattias Ohlund, while close to returning from a lower body injury, is still day-to-day and will not play tonight. In other news Matt Smaby was sent to Norfolk on a conditioning assignment. Many fans are calling for Smaby to get in a game with the Lightning and they may get their requests answered as Tocchet said again today that he hopes to get him in next week.
Former Lightning bench boss John Tortorella returns to the Times Forum for the first time tonight and he'll have a young group of defensemen to work with behind the Ranger bench. New York will have three rookies on the blue line tonight including Michael Del Zotto, Matt Gilroy and Bobby Sanguinetti, who will also be making his NHL debut. Tocchet said the Lightning will try and pressure the youngsters and force them into making quick decisions.
After the game tonight the Lightning will fly to Dallas for tomorrow night's game at the American Airlines Center.