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.
Marc Denis is expected to make his first start of the season tonight in Washington, and it’s likely you’ll see a determined effort. After a strong training camp, Denis has waited patiently for his chance to show that he can bounce back from a sub-par 2006-07. In his career Denis is 4-3-1 against the Caps - 3-0-0 last season - and two of the three were in Washington.
John Tortorella said this morning that it was the right time to get Denis in a game with Philadelphia waiting in Tampa for Thursday night’s meeting at the St. Pete Times forum.
“We wanted Marc to play today,” Tortorella said. “We’re not looking ahead at all and not sure how it will shake out. We haven’t looked forward at all beyond today and tomorrow.”
Doug Janik rotates back in as the sixth defenseman in place of Matt Smaby as Dan Boyle’s still not quite ready. The forward lines will stay the same as they were in the 6-2 win against Atlanta Saturday, with Andreas Karlsson and Ryan Craig still awaiting their chances.
Tortorella spent some time discussing the team’s transition game during Boyle’s absence (“definitely a work in progress”), pointing out that it’s been a learning experience for players such as Shane O’Brien and Paul Ranger, who’ve been asked to step up.
“Instinctual play takes time to develop,” Tortorella added.
Tortorella also took time to laud the play of Mathieu Darche (“one of our best forwards in driving the net”), and with Alexander Semin expected to return to Washington’s lineup tonight, he said he wasn’t sure who was more dangerous to face between Semin and Alexander Ovechkin.
Tortorella informed the media that the Lightning, likely to land in Tampa at 1:30 a.m. after the game, won’t have a morning skate tomorrow before the Flyers game.