Bolts blasted by Caps (again); Florida Panthers at Tampa Bay Lightning preview

If I had a choice, I wouldn't even get into yesterday's matinée debacle at Verizon Center... I'll just keep the recap short and succinct:

Ugh. Ugh. Ugh. Ugh. Ugh. Ugh.

6-0 the final, the Caps have now outscored the Lightning 12-3 in their two match-ups so far this season. Alexander Semin scored a natural hat trick for the Caps.

The Lightning's 5 game win streak came to an end, Steven Stamkos mustered only one shot on net, and the Bolts were beat down. Period. End of story.

All right, enough of the lament of a recap, lets move on to today's business, shall we?

WHERE: St. Pete Times Forum, Tampa, Florida
MEDIA: Sun Sports (cable),  online audio streaming available

Last time the Lightning and the Cats met, the Bolts suffered a humiliating loss, comparable to last night (okay, so we aren't through with the lament from yesterday's loss). Of course, the Lightning were still learning the Guy Boucher system and hiccups would occur.

But that loss was as ugly as last night's.

The Lightning are going to have to look past last night as well as their previous fortunes against the Panthers and do what they are supposed to do against Florida: beat them.

You can rationalize losing to the Capitals... It's the Capitals for crying out loud! But the Panthers? No... I can't rationalize it when we let the Kitties knock us around. Yes, Tomas Vokoun is an incredible netminder when he is on... Yes, Cory Stillman is a potent forward that we should not have let get away after 2004...

But that doesn't mean we should roll over for them, like we did in October and like we've done too many times in the past few seasons.

On the heels of last night's loss and the horrible 3rd period in Wednesday's win... This team needs to get back on track and come into tonight home game with drive, determination, focus and a much more sound execution.

The Panthers open up a road journey tonight -- they play the next six of seven on the road (including a west coast trip). The Lightning are not much better off, as they play the next five of six on the road -- including a trip to western Canada before coming back to Florida for the holidays.

Now, here's a question for you to ponder (and leave yoru thoughts in comments):  Who starts in net tonight?  Dan Ellis?  or Mike Smith

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