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The media was out in full force at today’s morning skate as Brad Richards made his first appearance in the St. Pete Times Forum as the member of another team. Richards is in good company in the “Lightning Alums” category on the Stars, with defensemen Darryl Sydor, Doug Janik and Andrew Hutchinson all taking part in the morning skate. Richards was the story, however, and the number of cameras in attendance forced him to move out of the cramped visitor’s locker room into the main hallway to answer questions.
It’s also a big game for Lightning goaltender Mike Smith, center Jeff Halpern and wing Jussi Jokinen, who will face their former team for the first time as well. Interim Head Coach Rick Tocchet said these types of nights can go two ways.
“The guy either plays well on both ends or it doesn't go well. Hopefully Richards tries too hard and doesn't play well,” he joked.
In roster news, the Lightning claimed defenseman Cory Murphy off re-entry waivers from Florida and the former Finnish League MVP was on his way to Tampa for tonight’s game, with his flight scheduled to land just before 4 p.m. Murphy, who spent last season with the Panthers after six seasons in Europe, is an Ottawa native known for his skating and puck-handling skills.
Marek Malik (lower body), Matt Smaby (lower body), Paul Ranger (upper body) and Jamie Heward (concussion) remain out on the Lightning blue line, so Murphy will have a great opportunity to catch on. He’ll join Andrej Meszaros, Steve Eminger, Lukas Krajicek, Kevin Quick and David Koci on defense tonight.
Evgeny Artyukhin will be the forward sitting out tonight and Wednesday, after it was revealed he will be suspended by the NHL for two games following his leg on leg collision with Florida’s Ville Peltonen Saturday night.
“I disagree,” Tocchet said of the punishment for Artyukhin. “But you have to respect the process. They said it was a reckless hit. I hope he doesn't get branded. He has to play aggressive to be successful in this league."