Both daily rags in the Tampa Bay market focused on the same story going into tonight's matchup between the Bolts and the Sabres: Buffalo goalie Ryan Miller and Lightning wing Drew Miller. Siblings! Can you believe it?! (Yes, I'm being sarcastic)
But this story is about two brothers who grew up friends despite fierce competitive streaks and different personalities.
Ryan said Drew "always thought he was older than he was. He always tried to tag along with me and my friends."
He also called Drew "a habitual line-crosser."
"Yeah, that's a little thing between me and him and some of our friends back home," Drew said. "They think I take things a little too far once in a while. I don't know. I don't think (Ryan) takes things far enough."
This has ABC Mid-season replacement written all over it.
Though I'm coming off biting, I'm not trying to mock either of the Miller brothers (or their hockey family), but instead I'm mocking the lack of lead-in to this game. The Bolts come off a very strong effort versus a highly formidable San Jose team, and you would think that the story would be about building-upon the 5-2 victory over the Sharks.Of course the biggest story that is still lingering around the Lightning is the lack of scoring from center Vincent Lecavalier and left wing Alex Tanguay. Lecavalier's drought is at or around 15 regular-season games now and Tanguay is not far behind. There is no doubt the offense will come - the question is where and when? And who should beware when it happens? After all, once goal-one gets scored by a player, more tend to follow... and in buckets.
The Bolts currently have eight points on the season (3-3-2) and hand't reached that point total until November of last season. A win will get them to 10 points four games faster than last season. That's not something monumental, but may be looked at as progress.
Meanwhile, Buffalo boasts 11 points in 7 games (5-1-1), and have proben to be a relative trigger-happy bunch of players: The team has an average of 38 shots a night while opponents are averaging a little more than 28. 17 of Buffalo's 20 skaters (not counting goaltending) have points so far this season. Ryan Miller can and should also get mad props for the Sabres hot start. He's started six games and has been lights-out for the most part: Posting a1.65 Goals Against Average and a .942 save percentage.
Buffalo has a 16.7 percent conversaion rate on teh power play (23rd in the league) and a 76.9 penalty kill percentage (19th). The Lightning have a 17% power play conversion rate (20th) and a 75% PK (23rd in the league).
Mike Smith is back between the pipes for the Lightnign tonight and David Hale will once again be in the defensive pairings. This is a game where the Bolts could eaasily get complacent -- big win, soft follow up syndrome.
Tampa Bay Lightning Projected Lines
(updated October 22, 2009 by RawCharge subject to change)
Mike Smith (starter)