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It's time to get down to business. I think everyone - players, coaches, staff and even media - is relieved that the parties and open practices are over and it's time to focus solely on the task at hand. It's been a great and memorable week, but now the Lightning need to solidify those memories with a couple of victories. Along those lines, Vaclav Prospal predicted two Lightning wins during his comments last night at the Prime Minister's reception (with both teams gathered), though the translator helping those of us who don't speak Czech conveniently left that part out.
Today the team headed to the arena at 9 a.m. for a 10:30 skate., which was short and at a high pace. The roster for this weekend is set, with the Lightning down to 24 after Jason Ward suffered a groin pull in practice yesterday. Ward has been placed on Injured Reserve, while defenseman Paul Ranger and center Jeff Halpern remain non-roster players having never passed their physicals due to injuries. The team is allowed to carry an extra goaltender through the weekend but will need to send one down next week, while more tough decisions will need to be made when Ward and Ranger return.
One aspect of driving in this area of the world that I don't think Americans would ever adapt to is the intersections. Yes, the big ones have stoplights, but the smaller ones have nothing but a yield sign, which is basically just a suggestion. The rule here seems to be "every man for himself" and whoever is most aggressive gets to go first. Being on a bus has its advantages in those situations, but even New York drivers have nothing on those from Prague when it comes to lack of driving manners (and the hand signals are the same). Also, pedestrian crosswalks over here are nothing more than a trap - pedestrians definitely don't have the right of way and cars actually speed up to try to take you out!
Next up - Game Day!