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Lightning hope to keep up home success

by Lonnie Herman
TAMPA -- All you need to know about the first half of the Tampa Bay Lightning's season can be found in two statistics:

Tuesday night at the Tampa Bay Times Forum, the Lightning will face the Vancouver Canucks:
a) seeking to break a three-game losing streak
b) seeking their fifth straight win at home

That sums it up.

Tampa Bay has been in search of stability all season, but the only consistency it has found is in its production on home ice. The Lightning are 11-5-0 at home and 6-15-3 on the road. Even more telling, their power play has connected at 21.8 percent at home and only 8.4 percent (worst in the NHL) on the road.

"Our power play on the road has been awful," Lightning coach Guy Boucher said. "I guess we like our fans at home and the reaction of the fans when we score on the power play."

But redemption could be just around the corner, as the Lightning begin a stretch where nine of their next 12 games will be at home.

"The next 12 games will show what will happen to us," Boucher said. "They will be very crucial. We've played great at home. We've beaten good teams here. Our game needs to be what it is at home and not what it has been on the road. We don't need to re-invent our game."

Although mired in 13th place in the Eastern Conference, nine points out of the final playoff spot at the mid-point of the season, Boucher hasn't bothered to track the standings.

"I've coached for 14 years now and never looked at the standings," Boucher said. "The standings today mean nothing. Today we're meeting Vancouver. Looking at how far other teams might be ahead is more discouraging than it is encouraging. Today it's not about what will happen in a month, it's about what will happen tonight in the first five minutes of the game. If we're not ready in those first five minutes, the rest of the standings really don't matter."

The Canucks (26-14-3) took the morning off after losing 2-1 Monday night against the Florida Panthers. Vancouver has not lost two games in a row since Nov. 4.

Here's how the lineups project:

Alexandre Burrows - Henrik Sedin - Daniel Sedin
Mason Raymond - Ryan Kesler - Chris Higgins
Cody Hodgson - Maxim Lapierre - Jannik Hansen
Mike Duco - Manny Malhotra - Dale Weise

Dan Hamhuis - Kevin Bieksa
Alexander Edler - Alexander Sulzer
Keith Ballard - Andrew Alberts

Cory Schneider
Roberto Luongo


Ryan Malone - Vincent Lecavalier - Brett Connolly
Martin St. Louis - Steven Stamkos - Steve Downie
Tom Pyatt - Dominic Moore - Teddy Purcell
Pierre-Cedric Labrie - Nate Thompson - Dana Tyrell

Eric Brewer - Pavel Kubina
Marc-Andre Bergeron - Matt Gilroy
Brett Clark - Brendan Mikkelson

Dwayne Roloson
Mathieu Garon
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