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If you want to see tonight’s game against the Panthers at the St. Pete Times Forum you’ll need to buy a ticket because we have another VERSUS blackout and the game won’t be televised. Neither the Lightning nor Panthers are allowed to show the game, so those of you with the NHL Center Ice package are out of luck as well. (Now that I’ve explained why there’s no TV, please don’t email me complaining that the Lightning don’t care about their fans because the game’s not on tonight! It’s not our fault!). Call 813.301.6600 or go to Ticketmaster.com if you still need tickets.
Now I can take off my salesman hat and get to this morning’s skate at the St. Pete Times Forum, though I first need to apologize for not providing an update for a couple of days. I had some time away from the team, and unlike some “media” I prefer not to borrow from other websites so I can pretend I was there. Zing!
Ryan Malone skated on his own today but still isn’t ready to go. The good news is he had an MRI yesterday and Interim Head Coach Rick Tocchet said the results were good, so he should be back soon. Adam Hall sat out practice yesterday (Tocchet said he took a shot off his foot against Carolina), but he was back on the ice today and ready to go for tonight. That makes Ryan Craig the odd man out once again tonight.
Tocchet held court with the gathered media for about 10 minutes this morning, and his honesty and straightforwardness are refreshing. There’s no beating around the bush with this guy, he tells you like it is. Consider these lines from today:
“We’ve got to get some guys prepared to play. If you can’t come in here for practice and be focused for 45 minutes or an hour, then you’re going to have problems. We only ask for an hour or two a day, they have 22 hours to do whatever they want.”
“They’d better play 35 or 45 second shifts. The days of the one minute shifts here are over.”
“There won’t be any excuses. Guys will know what’s expected of them. When guys leave the rink I want them to feel they left it all on the ice, and feel good about themselves for it.”
Don’t misunderstand, Tocchet is by no means a “scream at the team all the time” or “kick the dog” type of coach, but he expects a lot from his players. I think the players are responding to him so far, and hopefully the results will follow.
Tocchet said he plans to play Steven Stamkos on left wing with Vincent Lecavalier and Marty St. Louis for some of the game tonight, though Stamkos will also get some time at center.
“We need to get his confidence going; confidence and pace,” Tocchet said.
Tocchet also said he wants to keep Jussi Jokinen and Mark Recchi together as much as possible, noting they’ve contributed at an average of a goal a game.