Tonight is game #35 of the NHL season for the Lightning, 21 of the first 34 games of Tampa Bay's season were played on the road, with thanks to the renovations at Times Palace ongoing.
Game 35 might not be the half-way point ot the season, but it does mark the end of a road-wary team's travels. Oh, the Bolts still hit the road for stretches during the weeks to come, but 26 of the next 40 games played will be at Times Palace.
For a team that must get it's act together if it wants to make the playoffs, the comforts of home may just be the remedy for what ails the Lightning. Or not.
|New York Rangers||34||22-8-4||48|
|Toronto Maple Leafs||35||18-13-4||40|
|New Jersey Devils||35||19-15-1||39|
|Tampa Bay Lightning||34||14-17-3||31|
|New York Islanders||34||11-17-6||28|
Tonight also marks Martin St. Louis' return to action at the Forum after taking a puck to the face in practice earlier this month. Marty, as you know, returned to action last week in San Jose, but he has not played in a hom egame since December 3rd against the New York Rangers.
So, during warm-ups or player introduction before the game, when you hear #26's name called, do Marty a service and cheer him loud, cheer him long, and when you're done cheering him -- cheer some more. It's the most direct appreciation we, as fans, can show him.
Matt GIlroy returned to practice yesterday, though I wouldn't put money down on him playing tonight. While I don't expect a call-up, Norfolk Admirals defenseman Evan Oberg better have an overnight bag packed and ready, just in case.
Also still practicing with the red, no-contact jersey, is Nate Thompson.
Mathieu Garon looks to start, again, for the Lightning. No telling if Ilya Brygalov or Sergei Bobrovsky starts for the Flyers... But for marketing purposes (and the next edition of HBO 24/7) you'd have to think it'd be Bryz between the pipes: