The Lightning arrived in Long Island on Saturday and they were lucky to do so with the big winter storm hitting the eastern seaboard of the United States. Director of Team Services Ryan Belec and the team’s charter company, Miami Air, did a great job to get the team on the ground. The plane landed in Newburgh, New York and the team bused two and a half hours to its hotel in Uniondale. The Montreal Canadiens, who were playing the Islanders on Saturday night, were stranded in New York as well after sitting on their plane for some time and didn’t get out until about 4 p.m. on Sunday.
Well, the snow storm may be gone, but it is still cold and windy on “the Island” entering tonight’s game with New York. Tonight is the last game of a marathon road trip that has spanned 12 days, three time zones and what will be six games after tonight. I’m sure everyone is ready to get home to their own beds and see their loved ones. Head Coach Rick Tocchet said today though that tonight is not going to be an easy game. When asked if he thought the last game of a road trip is always the toughest he responded with probably his best line of the trip: “not when you’re 1-3-1,” he said.
Mike Smith will get the start in net tonight for the Lightning with his only previous meeting against the Islanders coming this season, a 4-0 shutout at the St. Pete Times Forum. It looks like Steve Downie will be back in the line up after suffering an upper body injury in Nashville. He has been itching to get back on the ice and has had a good couple practices.
Matt Walker will rest tonight after sustaining a lower body injury on Friday against St. Louis. He is listed as day-to-day. Zenon Konopka will also sit out tonight, not with a specific injury, but just because he is banged up and could use a couple days to recover. “Its not a punishment thing at all with him,” Tocchet said. “He has done everything we have asked of him.”
The team will fly out after the game tonight and the players sleep in their own beds for the first time since Wednesday, December 9. They will practice tomorrow and then host the Philadelphia Flyers on Wednesday before enjoying two-day break for Christmas.