It was an interesting trip into the nation's capital yesterday for the Lightning. The team practiced in Brandon and then jumped on the team plane around 3 p.m. to head to Washington D.C. for a date with Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals. Everything was going as normal until the second bus, containing the media and some special guests, slammed into the security gate exiting the tarmac. The damage to the bus wasn't too bad, just mainly the side mirror which was badly mangled. So after a delay to fill out paperwork and such the second bus departed for the hotel, which the driver missed and had to double back. Here's hoping the Capitals are skating tonight the way this poor guy was driving yesterday.
Real quick news from yesterday, in case you hadn't heard, the Lightning traded Jeff Halpern to the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for right wing Teddy Purcell and a third round pick. In talking with the press today Teddy, who got in late last night from Nashville where the Kings were playing, expressed his excitement to get the chance to play a bigger role with the Lightning than he was with Los Angeles. Expect at some point, possibly tonight, to see him playing on Vincent Lecavalier's right side and also on the power play. Purcell is a natural right wing, and is a right-handed shot, which would allow him to get his shot off quicker and more accurately from the wing.
Mike Smith will get the start in net. Rick Tocchet was mum on the rest of the line up, but it did appear Matt Walker, despite participating in the morning skate, will not play.
Special congratulations are in order for Jeff Vinik, whose Tampa Bay Sports & Entertainment closed on the sale of the Lightning and other assets yesterday. The NHL's Board of Governors unanimously voted to approve the sale and now he has full control of the team.
The Bolts will fly home tonight after the game and practice at the St. Pete Times Forum tomorrow before hosting the Atlanta Thrashers on Sunday.