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The Lighting had a 10:30 a.m. morning skate this morning at the St. Pete Times Forum. The big story for tonight’s game is obviously the return of Dan Boyle and Brad Lukowich to Tampa Bay after being traded during the summer. I spoke with both players this morning and they both seem really happy in San Jose. It was really strange seeing Boyle in the visitors’ locker room today and I’m sure it will be even more so tonight once he hits the ice in that white and teal jersey.
Matt Carle also spent some time this morning catching up with some of the San Jose players and staff. Barry Melrose said this morning that is wasn’t fair to compare Carle and Boyle, “They are two totally different players at different points in their careers. Danny Boyle is a great offensive defensemen, no one in Tampa ever said he wasn’t. We got a very good young defenseman who is going to he an anchor here for many years. I think it is a case of it being a good deal for both teams.”
There will be some line up changes tonight for the Lightning as Marek Malik will make his Bolts debut. Barry Melrose told the media this morning that he likes Malik’s size and wants to see how he plays tonight against the Sharks and their physical forwards. “If he can play against San Jose, he can play against anyone,” Melrose said. The odd man out will be Janne Niskala, who will miss his first game of the season. Melrose said that Niskala’s weakness, if he had one, was his play against bigger, more physical forwards like he would have seen tonight.
As previously reported, Radim Vrbata will miss tonight’s game with a lower body injury. Jason Ward will make his 2009-09 debut tonight in Vrbata’s place.