And so it begins... Atlanta Thrashers at Tampa Bay Lightning preview

WHERE: St. Pete Times Forum, Tampa, Florida
MEDIA: Sun Sports TV (cable -- Not available for Dish Network customers), 620 WDAE (radio)
OPPONENT COVERAGE: Bird Watchers Anonymous

So where were we?

That's an honest question for the fans.  Where were we?  Does team history stop at the conclusion of the 2007-08 season, and resume at this moment?  Or do you come into tonight's match-up of Southeast Division foes with the knowledge and memory of the past two seasons and accept the truth that the last regulation game was the win in Sunrise against the Panthers on April 11th, 2010?

I've encountered fans over the summer who want no recollection of the trials and tribulations of the club under the regime of OK Hockey.  Bad memories, they point out.  Others had turned their back on the team entirely once things fell down, went boom, near the conclusion of the Palace Sports and Entertainment ownership tenure in 2007-08.

Yet others are well aware of what has happened during the recent past.  They persevered and endured through that period of time and while they didn't necessarily enjoy themselves during the journey, it happened and it's over.

With either group, we come to today with a renewed vigor and appetite.  A sense of hope and a direction toward the future.  We move forward, and the season of Guy commences.

We have our season preview up, I don't need to recap any more of that we've been through. But what I do need to do is point out who we are facing: old friends Craig Ramsey, John Torchetti, GM Rick Dudley, and a revamped Atlanta Thrashers team.

How revamped? Try Chicago Blackhawks-South revamped -- adding the likes of Dustin Byfuglien, Brent Sopel, Ben Eager, and Andrew Ladd. With another old-Lightning friend in tow (LW Fredrik Modin), they can't be identified as the team of Ilya Kovalchuk -- and I apologize invoking that name after his over-exposure this summer.

Of course, with the good comes the bad and the bad in this case is a winless preseason for the Thrashers (going 05-1 in six games).  Also working against them tonight is the fact they are  playing back-to-back games.

There was also the unsettling incident last night at Phillips Arena where goalie Ondrej Pavelec colapsed on ice to the horror of fans and players in attendance. Reports since the incident indicate he's awake, alert, and happy... Happy because his Thrashers persevered through a very unsettling turn of events and beat the Capitals 4-2.

We're going to assume Steve Mason is starting for the Thrashers in net tonight. For the Lightning, it's Mike Smith in goal. Also expect Mattias Ritola to be a healthy scratch for the Bolts. Mattias Ohlund is out with his knee injury.

We'll havve our traditional game thread opening at 7 PM (always a half hour before game time).

Other Previews

>Tampa Bay Lightning official team preview

St Pete Times

Bird Watchers Anonymous