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It’s a bit of an unusual weekend for the Lightning, as yesterday was one of only three Saturdays that the team will have off the entire season. One of those is the All-Star break on January 26, and the other happens March 8 when the team plays Sunday afternoon in Columbus instead. The Bolts took advantage of the rare Saturday break with a day off, before gathering at the St. Pete Times forum this morning for a practice before heading to Atlanta for tomorrow night’s game against the Thrashers. The game will be the Lightning’s first appearance on VERSUS this season.
The Thrashers certainly seem to have turned things around under GM Don Waddell, who recently announced he’ll remain in his dual role as GM/Coach through the end of the season. Since Waddell swept Bob Hartley out of Atlanta after an 0-6 start, the Thrashers have gone 9-4-0, moving ahead of Washington and Florida in the Southeast Division and sitting three points behind the Lightning.
In the last meeting between the two teams on November 3 at the St. Pete Times Forum, Tampa Bay seemed to find its game after the tough New York road trip and had a 4-1 second-period lead before allowing the Thrashers to come back for the win. So the motivation for a strong performance will be there tomorrow night.
The team landed in Atlanta before 3 p.m. today and hopped a bus for the short ride downtown to the hotel, which thankfully has plenty of water despite the area’s drought woes. As the Bolts milled about in the hotel lobby upon arrival, Rev. Al Sharpton walked off the elevator and weaved his way through the group.