The Lightning get back on the home ice tonight for the first time in a week and a half, hosting the Toronto Maple Leafs at 7 p.m. Everything was business as usual at the morning skate today as Toronto-area native Steven Stamkos continues to get a bunch of attention from the media there. And with the Leafs in Tampa, he was swarmed today fielding questions about anything from his start this year compared to last year to the possibility of him making the Canadian Olympic Team.
Lightning coach Rick Tocchet seems to think Stamkos should be considered, saying, "If they are going to go young he has to be in the mix. He definitely deserves a look." A big supporter of Stamkos has also been TSN's Pierre McGuire, who will also be in between the benches tonight for the national broadcast in Canada.
Antero Niittymaki will be back in the nets tonight for the second consecutive game. Niittymaki has been nothing but stellar at the Times Forum this season, posting a 3-0-2 record with a 1.72 goals-against average and a .944 save percentage.
The Lightning remain the only team in the Eastern Conference without a regulation loss at home this season, sporting a 5-0-4 record. Tampa Bay's five regulation losses overall are also tied for the least in the NHL.
Tocchet told the media this morning that both Mattias Ohlund and Matt Smaby are close to returning, though neither would be available tonight. He did say that he'd like to get Smaby in the lineup next week.
In other blue line news, Mike Lundin is back with the Lightning and will be back in the line up tonight. He played well on Sunday against Atlanta and Tocchet praised his play by saying, "Lundin caught Kovalchuk twice. He's done a nice job and he is an NHL defenseman."
Fellow rear-guard Kurtis Foster will be in the line up, but he will also continue to see time at forward. Tocchet likes his play with the man advantage and uses him up front at wing a little bit to keep him "warm".
Remember tonight's game is at 7 p.m. due to it being televised nationally on TSN in Canada. Locally it is available on Sun Sports and 620 WDAE.