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It was another practice for the Lightning today as they prepare for the home opener against the Hurricanes on Saturday night. There was a good deal of power play work today and it looks like the power play units, at least to start the game, have been set. At today’s practice one unit was Andrej Meszaros, Jamie Heward, Steven Stamkos
, Radim Vrbata and Vaclav Prospal with the other consisting of Janne Niskala, Matt Carle, Martin St. Louis
, Vincent Lecavalier
and Ryan Malone
. The team also worked extensively on transitions and the fore check, much like yesterday.
Head coach Barry Melrose told the media that they expect to have newly acquired Lukas Krajicek in Tampa Bay tomorrow. After that they will make an assessment on whether he is ready to play Saturday night. With that being said there is a good chance of a call up from Norfolk for the game just in case. He also said that the “European season” is over and it is now “water under the bridge.” With that behind them the Lightning just need to get some wins under their belt and the upcoming schedule should help. As Melrose said, they will pay for it later, but with their next five games at home, there is an opportunity to get back on track.
Melrose was also asked about forward Evgeny Artyukhin, who spent the previous two seasons in his native Russia. When asked what one word he thought would describe the 6-foot-5, 259-pound winger, Melrose responded by saying, “Just like the one and only Rick James, Superfreak. He is by far the best athlete on the team.”
The head coach also took the chance to comment on his new replacement behind the ESPN NHL desk, former Lightning forward, Matthew Barnaby, saying “he’s not as sharp as the last guy” but he praised Barnaby’s knowledge and passion for the game.