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The Lightning Insider - Game Day

by Lightning Insider / Tampa Bay Lightning

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Great schedule-making in the NHL sometimes.

Back to back games in LA and San Jose doesn’t sound too bad, but consider the airport curfew in San Jose that forced the Lightning to land in Oakland last night and take a 40-minute bus ride to the hotel, and it starts to get a little ridiculous. The team eventually rolled into the hotel in San Jose at about 1:45 a.m. PT last night after the win in Los Angeles, and will face a well-rested Sharks team tonight. Oh, and the best part is that the Lightning then get to fly cross-country tomorrow, losing three hours in the process, before facing Philadelphia on Thursday night at the St. Pete Times Forum.

Do I sound bitter?

The team went to the arena this morning for a quick meeting – all of about three or four minutes. Head Coach Rick Tocchet said the message was clear, that there are a lot of statistical reasons people don’t think the Lightning have a chance tonight.

“So I told the guys, let's go to work," he said. “You’d be surprised by what you can will your body to do.”

The Sharks, meanwhile, haven’t lost in regulation at home (19-0-2-0) and have more points after 41 games (67) than any NHL team since the 1944-45 Canadiens (though the stat is skewed by the fact teams receive a point for OT or shootout losses these days). Nothing like a challenge!

It looks like the Lightning's defense will be even more patchwork tonight than it was last night when the team only dressed five defensemen, including rookie Vladimir Mihalik. Tonight 20-year-old Kevin Quick joins the mix from Norfolk of the AHL, making his NHL debut. Matt Smaby (lower body) was placed on Injured Reserve today, Steve Eminger (upper body) still isn’t ready, and Paul Ranger (upper body) has once again joined the injured list after a strong game last night.

So it looks like five defensemen again tonight, with David Koci a possibility to see some time on the blue line, according to Tocchet.

“You've got to buckle up and rely on your forwards to come back,” Tocchet said. “We did a good job of that in LA last night.”

Jussi Jokinen is back in at forward, with Ryan Craig taking his turn among the rotating healthy scratches at forward.

Finally, spotted at the Lightning’s win in LA last night – country music sensation Taylor Swift in a Kings jersey, along with Disney actress Demi Lovato.

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