Lightning seek to extinguish revamped Flames (preview) [UPDATED]

WHERE: St. Pete Times Forum, Tampa, Florida
MEDIA: CW 44 (TV), 620 WDAE (radio)
OPPONENT COVERAGE: Matchsticks and Gasoline, Calgary Puck (message board)

While the ownership transition becomes the major story surrounding the Lightning, there is still hockey to be played and a playoff race to compete in. The next pair of games on this homestand are against Western Conference foes... Foes who are jockeying for playoff position themselves.

In fact, while the Vancouver Canucks (Monday Tuesday night's opponent, Hat Tip to Sha-Sha for the correction) are flying high on the backs of the Sedin twins and Roberto Luongo in goal, the Calgary Flames are underachieving. After a hot start, the Flames have cooled significantly, culminating in this week's trades of Ollie Jokinen and Dion Phaneuf to the New York Rangers and Toronto Maple Leafs respectively. They'd been floundering in January (4-8-3 for the month) but have found new life since the deals this past week.

Can the Lightning further solidify their playoff footing tonight?  Or will they slip back at the ahnds of an always-formidable western Conference foe?

The Flames are coming off a victory in Sunrise last night, defeating the Bolts Southeast division rival Florida 2-1. They have also proven quite resilient on the road this season, posting a 15-8-5 record on the road.

Conversely, the Lightning go into tonight with a record of 15-6-6 at home and the sixth-ranked home power play unit (21.8% conversion rate at Times Palace).  They'll be squaring off against the Flames 9th ranked road penalty kill unit (84.1% kill rate), which is also 10th ranked overall 083% kill rate).

Both teams are currently seeded 8th in their respective conferences, teetering on the bubble.  The prime difference being the Flames (66 in 58 games) are 7 points in front of the Lightning (59 points in 56 games).

Tonight mark's game #1000 for former Bolt and current Flame Daymond Langkow.  Kind of poetic to think that he is playing #1000 against the team that he came into the league with.  Langkow was drafted by the Lightning in 1995 and played a total of 173 games with the team from 1995 until 1998. His best season with the team was his second in the league -- 1996-97 -- where he scored 15 goals and had 13 assists.

Scorching hot goalie Antero Niittymaki will be tending to the Lightning's net tonight.  The lineup seems to be the same from the last contest:

Tampa Bay Lightning Projected Lines

(updated February 4, 2010 by Raw Charge - subject to change)

Forward Lines:

Ryan Malone - Vincent Lecavalier - Alex Tanguay
Martin St. Louis - Steven Stamkos - Steve Downie
Nate Thompson - Jeff Halpern - Stephane Veilleux
Todd Fedoruk - Zenon Konopka - Kurtis Foster


Mattias Ohlund - Mike Lundin
Matt Smaby - Victor Hedman
Andrej Meszaros - Matt Walker


Antero Niittymaki (starter)
Mike Smith

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