Before I move on to tonight’s visit by the Flames, let’s go back to Tuesday night in Montreal. No matter how it went down, the Lightning’s 3-2 shootout victory was a huge confidence boost after Monday night’s result in Toronto. It was a solid road game for the team, and kudos to goaltender Marc Denis for playing a great game amidst all the distractions of being back home. Hopefully it will be just as big a confidence boost for him.
Of course, after Monday night’s travel exploits from Toronto to Montreal, the snow started coming down hard in Montreal a couple of hours before the game Tuesday. There was some concern about the team being able to head home after, but they know how to handle snowfall at Pierre Trudeau Airport, and the team was able to depart after some serious de-icing.
The scene as the Lightning traveling party headed for the plane really made you appreciate Florida in December. After going through a security screening at a small private terminal, each person had to trudge about 100 yards across the tarmac to the waiting plane. Assistant to the GM Ryan Belec and video coach Nigel Kirwan can be seen having flashbacks to their Canadian childhoods as they make the journey in this photo.
And most importantly after a Lightning road win, sometimes it doesn’t pay to fall asleep on the team charter, as equipment assistant Rob Kennedy found out in this photo!
Now, on to tonight’s game against the Flames. While it makes for good media and will probably feel special for Lightning fans to have the Flames back in Tampa, the Lightning will have to avoid the distractions and focus on continuing their strong play at home. The Southeast Division is turning into a wide-open race, and any team that strings together a few wins can take hold. Tampa Bay is in the midst of a 4-1-1 stretch right now, while Calgary is 2-0 so far on a six-game trip.
Johan Holmqvist moves back between the pipes tonight for Tampa Bay, while Miikka Kiprusoff will be at the other end.
A special welcome back to defenseman Cory Sarich, who signed as a free agent with the Flames this past summer after six-plus seasons with the Lightning. Cory and his family make their off-season home in Calgary, so the veteran has a lot of reasons to be happy these days. He’s also one of the classiest and most level-headed players ever to don the Lightning bolt, even when he was getting his butt kicked in a game of SOCOM on the Lightning charter flights.