Tonight the Tampa Bay Lightning begin a new chapter with recently acquired goaltender Ben Bishop. Tampa Bay acquired Bishop on Wednesday from the Ottawa Senators in exchange for Cory Conacher. Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman finally addressed the teams' goaltending issues but did at an expensive price by dealing away Conacher who was Tampa Bay's fourth leading scorer and a Calder candidate.
Lightning fans are eager to see if the the cost of a goaltender was worth dealing away the possible Rookie of the Year.
All eyes will certainly be on Bishop as he is expected to get the start in Carolina tonight. Bishop has started in 13 games this season (8-5), has a .922 save percentage and 2.54 goals against.
Also important to note, Lightning captain Vincent Lecavalier will be skating in tonight's game after being sidelined for almost three weeks with an ankle injury. Hopefully he can get back into the scoring mix and help the Lightning sneak into a playoff spot.
Both Tampa Bay and Carolina are fighting tooth and nail to get into the playoffs. The Lightning are two points behind Carolina in the standings with 32 points.
The Hurricanes have a dismal 1-8-1 record in their last 10 games. That bodes well for Tampa Bay who has earned three points in four games. Tampa Bay is on the heels of a 3-2 shootout loss to the Florida Panthers. In that game though, Tampa rallied from a two goal deficit to force the game into extra minutes. Before Tuesday's loss, the Lightning won back-to-back games.
The Lightning have won all three meetings against the Hurricanes this season while outscoring them 13-4.
If Tampa Bay continues to generate the offense that they have been, they should be able to beat Carolina. The Hurricanes have notched 11 goals in their last five games while allowing an embarrassing 20 goals in that span. In other words, Carolina's defense and goaltending stinks. Dan Ellis will be in net for the Hurricanes tonight, which is surprising since he let in four goals on seven shots against the Washington Capitals on Tuesday before being replaced by Justin Peters.
A few more things..
According to Erik Erlendsson of the Tampa Tribune, the Lightning's line rushes in morning practice looked like this:
Pouliot-Stamkos-St Louis; Connolly-Lecavalier-Panik; Killorn-Pyatt-Purcell; Tyrell-Johnson-Crombeen
The Lightning will be without Nate Thompson for one more game due to suspension, Ryan Malone (upper body, injured reserve), and Pierre-Cedric Labrie (upper body, injured reserve) The Hurricanes will be playing without Joni Pitkanen (broken heel) who is out for the season, Justin Faulk (knee) Tuomo Ruutu (groin), and Cam Ward (knee).
Tickets -- Check Availability