Gilroy was here; Tampa Bay Lightning at New York Rangers preview

WHERE: Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York
WHEN: 7 PM EST | | TICKETS: Check Availability
MEDIA: Sun Sports (cable), 970 WFLA (radio)
OPPONENT COVERAGE: Blueshirt Banter

But how much of a difference does the Lightning make by simply selecting Hedman without any of the listening-to-offers crap? And if the Lightning are successful in chasing BU Defensemen Matt Gilroy? you've upped the skill level of the defensive zone by leaps and bounds without the volatility of trade negotiations and further upsetting a roster that was savaged by instability all season long.

I wrote that in the spring of 2009 when the Lightning defensive corp was a defensive corpse - a dead man walking. There is no one from the ragtag 2008-09 defense still ont he roster. Richard Petiot, who was acquired from Toronto, left the franchise and returned in 2011, playing with the Norfolk Admirals where he recently sustained a season-ending knee injury.

Of course, Hedman was drafted in June of 2009, the defense was rebuilt over the past three off-seasons by former GM Brian Lawton and current GM Steve Yzerman. But what about that Gilroy guy?

Matt Gilroy, as you well know, is on the Lightning now, but in spring of 2009 he signed with the New York Rangers after completing his career at Boston University. He played some 127 games with the Rags in two seasons, also playing a bit with the Hartford Wolf Pack (now the Connecticut Whale)... But he didn't exactly live up to his reputation or expectations. That's why he hit the free-agent market last summer.

Fans of the Lightning have done a 180 on Gilroy since the season began. Some were ready to end the Gilroy experiment right out of the starting gate of the season as Matt struggled to adjust to the team system. But lately he has come on. He's earned playing time on the first power play unit with the Lightning, and he has spent time (albeit to fill in for the injured Hedman) on the Bolts first defensive pairing with Eric Brewer.

And tonight? Tonight Gilroy makes his return to the remodeled Madison Square Garden for his second game against his former team.

It's never easy for Martin St. Louis and his iron man streak, is it? Tonight would serve as Marty's 500th consecutive game played (he is only behind Daniel Sedin and Jay Bouwmeester among active players) and what happens during practice? St. Louis was struck in the eye by a puck. Reports via Twitter say it was a direct hit,and Sun Sports Paul Kennedy says St. Louis is out tonight. St. Louis has been taken to NYU Medical Center for evaluation.

We'll have more on this as it becomes available.

Damn the streak, I'm more concerned about St. Louis' vision. Marty has been known to get nicked, scratched, cut, and hammered in the face but he remains one of the Lightning veterans that has played without a visor.

Nate Thompson and Pavel Kubina are also likely out tonight. Kubina did participate in the morning practice as did Thompson, but both are not expected to play. Erik Erlendsson on Twitter suggests that a call up from Norfolk is likely. There is no word if defenseman Evan Oberg will make his Lightning/Season debut tonight, as t

So a battered and bruised Bolts team will take on the well stocked Rangers in their second meeting of the season. Mathieu Garon will be in net for the Lightning.

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