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The Lightning Insider - Game Day

by Lightning Insider / Tampa Bay Lightning

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From today’s Buffalo News:

“While things are going much better in Sabreland, the Lightning has been one of the NHL’s sad sacks all season. The Barry Melrose experiment as head coach was a flop and Rick Tocchet has not been much better since he took over.”

The Buffalo Sabres in their past 14 games – 8-4-2
The Lightning in their past 14 – 8-5-1

One point. That’s the difference between the Sabres and Lightning since Christmas. Yes, we’ve seen it all before with writers and broadcasters who take shots because a team is located in a warm-weather market (usually warm, brrrr). But at least do your homework and don’t throw out lines you can’t back up. Anyone who has taken the time to watch a Lightning game recently knows this team, despite the injury-mandated patchwork defense, is night and day compared to what it was under Barry Melrose. Just ask Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Anaheim, Dallas, etc.

Yes, the Lightning couldn’t score (except for in a 5-2 win at Buffalo October 30th) and were among the league’s worst heading into December. Since then, it’s been a different team.

There; now I’ll get off my soap box.

With four full days off for the team after tonight’s game, Interim Head Coach Rick Tocchet said he didn’t need to spend much time this morning emphasizing how important it is to leave it all on the ice tonight.

“It was a three second speech,” Tocchet said. “There's nothing to save it for. It’s got to be hard every shift. You've got four days to recover.”

There’s nothing new on the injury front, so the lineup that beat Dallas Monday night will be back tonight with Ty Wishart on D in place of Kevin Quick. Paul Ranger, Marek Malik, Matt Smaby, Paul Szczechura, Gary Roberts and Jamie Heward remain sidelined, and the long weekend of rest could help those who are close to returning.

“It's huge for us,” Tocchet said of the break. “Our defense needs it more than anybody. It's a big break for our team.”

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