There is a new truth to games in the Eastern Conference that the Lightning need to adjust to, and that's the fact Brad Richards will be playing against them four times a season, not counting the playoffs, for a long time to come.
You do remember Brad Richards, don't you? Drafted in 1998 by the Lightning (along with some guy named Lecavalier), Richards made his NHL debut in 2000 and was runner-up for the Calder (rookie of the year) to Evgeny Nabokov. He would go on to help the Lightning franchise turn itself around and become Stanley Cup Champions in 2004.
But Brad departed via trade in 2008 (lets not even get into that debacle. Bloggers may write in their underwear according to Jay Feaster, but Jay scouts goaltending about as well as Helen Keller). He did have the opportunity to return to Tampa via free agency this past summer, but he took the money and ran to New York instead.
Yes, Brad Richards is a Ranger now. Brad is back with John Tortorella, former Bolts head coach.. Oh, and lets not forget our old pal Ruslan Fedotenko is also playing with Brad too.
Whoever the company at Times Palace is tonight, there's a game to be had. All friendliness aside, the Bolts are in need of two-points as a very difficult stretch of the schedule begins.
A merry-go-round of players scratched and players starting takes a new turn tonight. Adam Hall will sit as Ryan Shannon is back in the lineup. Hall isn't flashy but he is consistent and has been one of the Bolts top defensive forwards. His blue-collar work is not flashy: Hall is minus-3 with two points scored in 24 games this season. Bruno Gervais also sits, again.
Martin St. Louis is 2 points shy of 800 for his career. A lively night at Times Palace could put him over the top.
Mathieu Garon gets the start in net for the Lightning.
The Rangers are hot right now, winners of their past four. It's not always pretty but they are finding ways to win. That's important for any team contending for the playoffs. They are three points behind the Pittsburgh Penguins for the Atlantic Division lead. That's seven points in front of the Lightning in the conference standings.