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The Lightning held at team meeting at Madison Square Garden yesterday before busing from Manhattan to the Embassy Suites-Secaucus near the Devils’ old rink in New Jersey. With the Devils moving into the new Prudential Center in downtown Newark (slogan – “The murder capital of the U.S.”), it appears all visiting NHL teams are wisely sticking with hotels in other areas. The bus ride is a little longer, but the upside is you don’t have to worry about getting shot when you walk to dinner. I guess it’s fitting that the Lightning will play on Halloween in one of the “spookiest” places around.
After a 20-minute ride into Newark this morning, “The Rock” (get it? Prudential – Get a Piece of the Rock?) came into view (pictured). It’s nice enough on the outside, but tonight’s game (the second in the building) is basically being played at the construction site that will eventually be the new home of the Devils. Hard hats outnumber hockey helmets on the inside, and the players might want to wear hospital masks during the game to avoid all the dust in the air. Today’s morning skate took place while the cavernous building’s fire alarmed blared for 20 minutes, and ironically, none of the security guards near the locker room could find the way to the security entrance.
Tonight’s game is important for both teams, and it was a very businesslike Lightning team that hit the ice this morning. John Tortorella said he plans no lineup changes, though he’ll shuffle the defensive pairings a bit as Dan Boyle prepares to play regular minutes. Tortorella said Boyle would play on the third pairing with Brad Lukowich on his left, while Shane O’Brien will be with Mike Lundin and Paul Ranger will pair with Filip Kuba.
Following the skate the Lightning bused back to the “Green Zone” in Secaucus for lunch and a nap. I’d expect a hungry Lightning team tonight; anxious to put Monday’s embarrassing loss against the Rangers behind them.