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THE LIGHTNING INSIDER

by Lightning Insider / Tampa Bay Lightning
Let Tampabaylightning.com become your destination for all the latest Lightning scoops. The Lightning Insider will be in the stands, in the locker room and on the road with the team throughout the 2007-08 season to provide you with a positive look at the Bolts as they pursue Lord Stanley’s hardware. Our resident snoop will post the latest following practices and morning skates, and he’ll make sure you’re the first to know when the Lightning are making news.

Today marks the first trip of many for the Lightning during the 2007-08 season as we head to Detroit to face the Red Wings tomorrow night. The day started with a practice in Brandon; another power play session and some four-on-four overtime work before a full practice devoted to breakout rushes and entering the opposing zone. Brad Richards was back on the ice, and Jason Ward (strained tendon in his ankle) participated in the power play work but not the full practice. Ryan Craig sat out once again.

It's nice to see Bonnie and the folks from Miami Air who take such good care of the team throughout the season. At the direction of Lightning Team Services Director Phil Thibodeau, Miami Air shuttles the Bolts throughout North America on a fleet of custom 737s that make the travel grind a lot more tolerable. For this trip the team plane is outfitted like a commercial plane because extra seats are needed for the 4-5 additional players and a group of sponsors that came along. Usually it's a first class seat for everyone. The team will likely see the inside of an airport terminal only a half-dozen times this season as most cities allow the team bus to pull alongside the plane to load or unload. You can't beat it.

Detroit is a bit cooler (high 60s), gray and rainy today, and you can't miss the billboards beckoning the natives to FLORIDAAAH! It's good to have Dan Boyle on the trip. He'll likely stay with the team so he can skate to stay in shape while his wrist heals. Ryan Craig stayed back in Tampa so his back doesn't have to deal with the flights and hotel beds.

Tonight, the Lightning get together for a team dinner in the massive Marriott Renaissance Center hotel facing Windsor, Ontario (casino anyone?) that will be home until Friday morning. Upon arrival at the hotel head coach John Tortorella held court with the media and said Johan Holmqvist will likely get the start in goal tomorrow night. He also said Vinny Lecavalier will likely get the night off, and that he’s hoping to have Chris Gratton in the lineup if his vision is clear enough after his scratched cornea. Gratton is being fitted with a contact tonight and according to Tortorella, “if he can see he’ll play.”

I'll post an update, with the Lightning's planned lineup vs. the Red Wings, tomorrow after the morning skate at Joe Louis Arena.
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