Sunset on a west-coast road trip: Lightning at Sharks preview

Former Lightning goalie Antero "Frank" Niittymaki faces his former team tonight -- and brings his dominant career against the Southeast Division with him. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

WHERE: HP Pavilion, San Jose, California
WHEN: 10:30 PM EDT
MEDIA: WTOG CW44 (local TV), 620 WDAE (Radio)
OPPONENT COVERAGEFear the FinSharkspageBattle of California

Seeing friend and former team mate Antero Niittymaki while in San Jose might be nice for Lightning team members, but after the niceties, there is the cold hard truth that must e realized:  Antero Niittymaki owns the Southeast division.  I mean, completely owns it.

First of, the ugly, beautiful truth for Frank:  4-1-1 record, a .930 save percentage and a 1.75 GAA so far this season.  That makes him a very sound investment, so far, for the Sharks.

And then we get to his record against Southeast opponents, something we loved to look at while he was in our stable:

17-0-0 against the Atlanta Thrashers, 7-3-0-1 versus the Washingotn Capitals, 6-4-0-1 against the Florida Panthers, 8-2-0-2 against the Carolina Hurricanes..

And all time against the Lightning?  The one bright spot knowing who we face tonight: 1-4-0-0.  

The big story, after the fact that the Lightning are bruised and hurting, is Shark's captain Joe Thornton's suspension and the susequent fallout from tha.  These are trying times for the Sharks but adversity is a rallying point.

 From Fear the Fin:

Sharks Head Coach Todd McLellan clearly has his hands full right now-- his best player and Captain has been suspended, Sharks management is livid with the League, the players are confused with the ruling, and the fanbase is fired up beyond belief.

Add in the fact that San Jose has been shutout in their last two games and you have a perfect storm of distractions for the team.

Two teams coming off two losses, two teams playing through issues. Something's gotta give... 

Victor Hedman is back in t he lineup for Tampa Bay tonight after being scratched with foot problems on Thursday night.  Steve Downie will be a game time decision, as he's dealing with back issues.  Not sure if Dan Ellis or Mike Smith starts tonight -- both played well in loses in the LA Basin this past week.

This is, thankfully, the end of the Bolts four game west-coast roadtrip.  They'll be coming home to Times Palace for a sole home game versus the Toronto Maple Leafs before heading back out on the road again.


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