A reintroduction for Roloson; New York Islanders at Tampa Bay Lightning

WHERE: St. Pete Times Forum, Tampa, Florida
MEDIA: Sun Sports (cable), 620 WDAE (radio)
OPPONENT COVERAGE: Lighthouse Hockey

Last time the Tampa Bay Lightning and New York Islanders faced off, waaaaaaaay back during Christmas week 2010, what stood out from the game was frustration.

The frustration of a one-goal loss (hmm, seems familiar somehow), and the frustration of Lightning forwards when trying to get the puck past the Islanders netminder of record, Mr. Dwayne Roloson. Rolie stopped 34 of 35 shots, with the only goal allowed being a Ryan Malone tally midway through the 1st period.

That game amounted to a formal audition as two-weeks later, Roloson was a Bolt. Fans were thrilled that the team was not going to stay pat with what had been deficient netminding up until that point.

When Roloson gets asked by Tampa Bay and New York based media about facing his old team, he's going to play it down. That's what he does, and what most athletes in his position tend to do. But of course Roloson, who has played 27 games with the Lightning and has a .910 save percentage and a 2.55 goals-against average, wouldn't think it just a bit odd facing off against the team he helped steer for the past season and a quarter. He was a big part of things on the Island.

There's no better proof of that than the lingering admiration for Rollie from Isles fans.

More on today's game below the fold.

We haven't done much reporting the past few days on side-stories that were of note. Simon Gagne was out of action in Ottawa with that neck-injury that plagued him early in the season. While there had been varying reports that Gagne could miss a good number of games, that total had dwindled to a game-or-two by yesterday. This morning? It outright disappeared. That's right, Gagne looks to be available for tonight's action against the Islanders.

Coincidentally, he was knocked out of action in October by these very same Islanders.

In more injury news, Ryan Malone and now right-wing Steve Downie are skating with the team (with the red no-contact jersey, of course). Both may become available to the Lightning within a matter of days. Stay tuned.

The Bolts are back at home for a 2 game homestand. Opening with the Isles tonight and then closing with the Carolina Hurricanes in the first of a home-and-home, back-to-back affair this weekend. All of this, of course, comes on the heels of the disappointing road trip to Eastern Canada. yeah, the Bolts secured four out of a possible six points while touring Ontario and Quebec... But the back-to-back overtime loses to the Montreal Canadiens and Ottawa Senators were demoralizing. Especially after the collapse in Ottawa.

Fans might look at this game as a chance to rebound because, heck, it's the Isles. Yeah, the Isles who have already beaten the Lightning two of three times this season, despite the roster having been riddled with injuries and despite turmoil in Uniondale stemming from coaching issues, losses, arena issues, etc.

The Isles have nothing to lose. Fear that.

The Bolts do have something to lose - momentum. They have none right now, and with 10 games left in the NHL regular season for the team, they need it. They also need to formally make the post-season still They have not clinched a spot. Then again? Only the Philadelphia Flyers and Vancouver Canucks have clinched at this point.

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