The Sens and the Bolts danced earlier in the month and it was an absolute drubbing in the Senators favor. Everything for the Bolts was exactly as it shouldn't be and the Senators capitalized on it.
For the Lightning, coming off the disheartening shoot-out loss to the Sabres on Saturday and strong play against the San Jose Sharks earlier in the week, the question becomes just how much the team wants to redeem themselves after looking like amateurs in Ottawa two weeks ago. Rick Tocchet was quoted saying:
"Obviously, when you get spanked by a team, you're looking for some guys to react a little better than they did in Ottawa. But I think we've righted the ship a little since then. I think we're a little more confident."
It's at that point where the Bolts need to stand up and show everyone that the ship has indeed been righted since October 15th, and show the league that they can indeed compete for more than also-ran status in the NHL.
Mike Smith gets the nod between the pipes for the Bolts tonight after playing fantastic at times the past two games. Upping the level of consistency in net is a must for Smith, who gave up a softy as a game-tying goal versus the Sabres with under a minute left to play.
Defenseman Matt Smaby had been expected to suit up and play tonight in his first action of the season, but the team announced that David Hale will instead be participating. Matt has been Tampa's ninth defenseman, spending time in Norfolk on a conditioning stint but not having any in-game action at the NHL level. With Paul Ranger on leave from the team, it's a great opportunity for the Bolts extra defenders to make their case for more playing time.
Ottawa played in Sunrise last night and escaped with a 4-3 victory over the Panthers. The Senators lost defenseman Anton Volchenkov last night to an elbow injury and have recalled Brian Lee from Binghampton. They're currently second in the Atlantic Division and near the top of the Eastern Conference standings with 14 points (6-2-2).
The Senators penalty kill has only improved since the two teams last meeting: Ottawa has a league-leading 89.1 kill percentage... Ottawa has struggled with the man advantage, however, converting on only 13% of their power-play opportunities. Daniel Alfredsson leads the Sens in points with 19 (5 goals, 9 assists).
For the Bolts, lets not forget that Alex Tanguay is still looking for his first goal, an has not notched a tally in his last 12 regular season games, dating back to last season. Vincent Lecavalier shed his goose-egg goal total on Saturday (his first goal in 15 regular-season games).
The Bolts and Sens will dance again -- their third of four meetings this season - in a week's time in Ottawa.
Tampa Bay Lightning Projected Lines
(updated October 29, 2009 by RawCharge subject to change)
Mike Smith (starter)
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