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An open letter to the Lightning roster; Tampa Bay Lightning at Montreal Canadiens preview

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In short, don't play like last night. Play like you did the past couple of week, okay?

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Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

Bell Centre, Montreal, Quebec | When: 7:30 PM EST
Radio: 970 AM WFLA | Television: FS Florida Sun | Twitter: Live Stream
Opponent Coverage: Eyes on the Prize, All Habs

Dear roster players for the Tampa Bay Lightning:

The headline for the game day preview yesterday read as thus:

"A scoring-but-slumping opponent; Tampa Bay Lightning at Ottawa Senators preview"

I hate to break it to you gentlemen, but the "scoring-but-slumping" remark was not aimed as a description for you nor an expected show from you in Ottawa last night... And yet that's exactly what we seemed to get as the Senators piled on the goals and you... well, you came off as a capable-but-struggling group that was lost. That's quite the opposite of how you've performed on ice since early January, sirs. Please keep this in mind against the Montreal Canadiens tonight at Bell Centre. Competitiveness from you against a team in a disheveled state such as Montreal has been in is to be expected. The fact it's a team that puts too much stock in goaltending compared to play on the general ice sheet stresses the fact you're expected to be competitive against these guys.

Les Habs are division rivals and while a place-holding capable goalie is scheduled to start in net tonight in the form of Ben Scrivens, who some of you have played ample time against in the AHL and NHL over the years, that can and should be overcome.

It'll likely be a tight contest, which you've been capable of handling this season. You'll have a very capable backstop in Ben Bishop as the starter (unless something else is planned). There is slack to take up if defenseman Jason Garrison's injury hampers him or knocks him out of the lineup. You're capable of this. It's opportunity knocking for Matthew Carle to stifle his critics (or at least try) with a sound performance.

There is weight to this game, gentlemen, that isn't in the direct contest but certainly necessitates positive results: The Boston Bruins are now tied with your Lightning team in the Atlantic Division, having the same 62 points in the same 52 games played. What Boston does against the Los Angeles Kings at TD Garden is out of your hands, but you do control your own destiny as the holders of second place in the Atlantic Division. A win will keep you in that seat regardless of what Boston does. With a loss of any variety, however, you're left hoping for Boston's own failings tonight (oh, and former Bolt Vincent Lecavalier scoring against the B's. Multiple times would be preferable.)

You're not the struggling team, don't play like one tonight.

- John

P.S.  Pick up wine for Mr. Vinik while you're out this afternoon. The guy paying the bills and your paychecks deserves some tokens of appreciation. Jus' sayin'.

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