Dan Ellis starts in goal against his former team (preview)

WHERE: St. Pete Times Forum, Tampa, Florida
MEDIA: Suns Sports (cable), 620 WDAE (radio)

Last season, it was pretty clear parity was deeply entrenched in the Eastern Conference... and while it's certainly evident in the Western conference as well, the West was a sight better than the East... The Stanley Cup Championship going to the Blackhawks is one way of determining that, but also the fact weaker lower seeds made the Eastern Conference Final should have also been evidence of that.

Regardless, the Lightning play the next four of five against the West, including a three-game road trip in the coming days. This evening, they host the Nashville Predators at Times Palace.

Dan Ellis squares off against his former team in this earlier-than-usual Sunday evening game . Ellis played for three seasons in the Nashville Predators organization, where he earned the support of fans through his Twitter antics last season.

I'll leave it at that... The pleasant memories for Preds fans...

Ellis is 1-1-1 in Tampa Bay so far... That strong start in Philadelphia set the bar which Lightning fans have been measuring him by... His effort in Sunrise against the Panthers (which got him pulled from the game in the 1st period) has been the low-water mark... The 3-2 overtime loss to the Islanders seems like a decent middle ground for Dan... Yet it will take better for him to erase his ghastly stats (.879 save percentage and a 3.50 Goals Against Average).

Simon Gagne is expected to miss tonight's game with continuing neck stiffness. Time off and healing may be a good thing for Simon... He is still oh-fer the season in scoring (goals and assists), and is a minus-8 in six games played.

Nashville is currently 13th in the league on the power play (16.7% conversion rate) while the Lightning are 3rd (29.4% conversion rate). The Lightning are tied for sixth in the NHL with their penalty kill unit, with an 88.6% kill rate. Nashville's unit is ranked 24th in the league with a 79.2% kill-rate.

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