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Well it won't take long for today's call-ups to get their shot as Paul Szczechura and Radek Smolenak will both be in the line up tonight against the Flyers. Radim Vrbata and Ryan Craig will watch the game from the press box. Szczechura and Smolenak will be called on by Rick Tocchet to bring energy and a high tempo to the ice tonight. Both will be making their NHL debuts and will be trying to make a good impression so look for them to come out flying. The pair of newcomers arrived at the hotel last night along with Norfolk General Manager Mike Butters. The Admirals were playing in nearby Hershey and Butters hauled the guys to Philly to meet the team. Now that is full service!!!
Mike Smith will get the start in net for the Lightning who have already won here in the city of brotherly love once this season. It really hit me all the Tampa Bay/Flyers connections this morning. Tocchet, Steve Eminger, Steve Downey, Vaclav Prospal and Mark Recchi have all played here at one time or another. The media attention today at the morning skate was by far the most we've had on the trip so far.
It was good to see 76ers VP of Marketing Eric Blankenship and webmaster Nick Gesacion yesterday at practice. They are both former Lightning staffers and were kind enough to bring us a couple copies of the 76ers dancer calendar. I would say it is certainly worth checking out. Too bad my copy ended up in the hands of the Lightning equipment staff. I don't think I'll be seeing that again! After dinner Gesacion met up with our group at Mace's Crossroads Pub for a little Monday Night Football. Great low key spot to have a couple ginger ales if you're ever in Philly. Best Guinness in town according to Dennis the bartender, and I can't say I disagreed with him.
The road trip comes to an end tonight as the team will charter back to Tampa after the game.