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The Lightning got back to their home locker room for the first time since January 3 this morning as they get ready for tonight’s match-up against the Philadelphia Flyers. It was a fairly successful road trip for Tampa Bay as they went 3-2-0 in the games with the only blemish being the game against Phoenix which Rick Tocchet said today he would like to forget.
Tocchet said he liked what he saw during the trip as far as the team’s resiliency entering the third period. He specifically sited the game against Anaheim where they jumped out to a lead only to have the Ducks tie the game at three in the second. They got the winning goal from Ryan Malone
in the third and skated away with the victory. It is in times like this that earlier in the year the team may have sat back but now they “are starting to embrace it” according to Tocchet.
Mike Smith will get the call in between the pipes for the Lightning after having Tuesday’s game against San Jose off. Jussi Jokinen will be a game time decision and will take the warm up. The key of the game tonight may be Tampa Bay’s ability to stay out of the penalty box. As was brought up this morning, the Lightning were in the game against the Sharks at 2-1 until penalties took them out of the game. Tocchet made comparisons to the Sharks and the Flyers saying that both teams go to the net and have strong power plays.
In an interesting move today, the Lightning reassigned defenseman Vladmir Mihalik to Norfolk meaning that fellow rookie Kevin Quick will remain with the team for the time being. Tocchet said he likes the way Quick, 20, moves the puck out of the zone and his overall skating ability. Quick’s contributions in the transitional game seem to be the key to him staying with the Lightning. Tampa Bay also recalled Steve Downie from the Admirals. It appears he may see time on a line with Vinny Lecavalier, though probably not for the entire game. Tocchet said he likes the fact that Downie is a “A to B” kind of player and him going to the net will help Lecavalier.
On the subject of Lecavalier, he admitted today that the swirling trade rumors regarding him being dealt is starting to become a distraction. Executive Vice President and General Manager Brian Lawton met with the local media after practice today and reassured them that Lecavalier is not going anywhere. I’m sure most Lightning fans can chalk this up to the annual “Vinny to Montreal” rumor started by members of the Canadian media.