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. Have a question or comment for The Insider? Send me an email at Insider@tampabaylightning.com
The Lightning are making their first return trip of the season tonight when they once again visit the Florida Panthers in Sunrise. It’s an important game for both teams as they hover two games below .500 while hoping to gain ground in the Southeast Division.
One thing people learn about Lightning head coach John Tortorella when they spend a decent amount of time around the Bolts is that he is a master of keeping the “pulse” of the team. There have been many days when people arrived at the rink feeling good about the team, only to have Tortorella’s blunt vision of reality bring them back to earth. On the flip side, things can seem to be going poorly for the team and you might expect a tense mood from the Lightning coach, only to have a relaxed, content Tortorella greet you.
A perfect example of this can be seen during the Lightning’s current losing skid, which has reached five including the overtime loss against Buffalo on Oct. 27. Tortorella made it clear he wasn’t happy with the team’s performance after the loss in New York last Monday, and he was in nearly the same mood following the Wednesday loss in New Jersey though he pointed out some signs of progress.
Following the past two losses, however, Tortorella has been relaxed and, though disappointed, confident his team is headed in the right direction. Tortorella’s demeanor usually filters quickly through the coaching staff and the locker room, and tonight you will likely see a confident Lightning team hit the ice in Sunrise.
Today’s morning skate in Sunrise was optional, with Andreas Karlsson getting the call once again in place of Mathieu Darche. Doug Janik will play on defense with Dan Boyle out and Matt Smaby in Norfolk, and Johan Holmqvist will be in net.
On the injury front, Boyle is missing tonight’s game to have his wrist looked at, and center Ryan Craig has been activated off Injured Reserve and assigned to Norfolk of the American Hockey League. Craig, who’s been out since the first preseason game with a herniated disk in his back, is expected to suit up Wednesday and Friday for the Admirals before re-joining the Lightning in Washington on Saturday.
Thanks for everyone that submitted questions to my email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Keep sending them in and I’ll try to answer them all once a week.
Valerie Doherty asks: Hi there....I've known Ryan Craig since he was a pup...great kid...great family! But I have moved and it's tough sometimes to keep track....Anyway...what happened to Ryan? and when?
Insider: Hey Valerie, Ryan is still with the team here in Tampa. He is currently on the injured reserve list with a herniated disk in his back that he suffered during the preseason. Craig has been on the ice with the team and participating in practice. It seems he will be back sooner rather than later, but it is also possible that the team could send him to Norfolk on a conditioning assignment prior to him making his debut this season. Keep your eyes on tampabaylightning.com for breaking news on that front.
George McGillis asks: Living in British Columbia, we don't get to see a lot of Lightning games. The game against the Devils was on TSN tonight. I was impressed with the progress Eric Perrin made with the team last year but he wasn't playing with them tonight. Has he been traded?
Insider: After two seasons with the Lightning Eric signed with Atlanta during the summer as an unrestriced free agent. He really enjoyed his time with Tampa Bay and still talks to everyone when the Thrashers come to town, but it just came down to the possibility of more playing time with the Thrashers. Eric knew he would have a better chance of cracking the top two lines in Atlanta than he would have with the Lightning this season.