Turning the corner or more of the same? Tampa Bay Lightning at Dallas Stars preview

WHERE: American Airlines Arena, Dallas, Texas
WHEN: 8:30 PM EST | | TICKETS: Check Availability
MEDIA: Sun Sports (cable), 970 WFLA (radio)

With three games remaining until the 2012 NHL All-Star break commences, the Bolts head out on their final west-of-the-Mississippi trip of the season for back-to-back games against the Dallas Stars and Phoenix Coyotes. They do it with one win in 2012, that coming Tuesday against the reigning champion Boston Bruins.

As much as fans want to see Tuesday's victory as a potential turning-the-corner moment, I have to say that I'll believe it when I see it. The Lightning have had a habit this season of putting together a great win (or a stretch of wins), then going on the road and crashing back to Earth in heartbreaking fashion.

It's not like the Bolts are getting a free pass on this trip, either. The Stars have fluctuated between the top of the Western Conference and their current just outside playoff seeding. They're currently tied for 10th in the West (with the Calgary Flames and Phoenix Coyotes), and sit a mere 2-points out of the 8th and final playoff spot.

By contrast, the Bolts are tied for last place in the Eastern Conference. They're 12 points int eh standings behind the Florida Panthers for the final playoff spot in the East.

Do the Lightning want to prove they turned the proverbial corner? Six points in those final three games of the first half of the season are what's needed. Even if they ain't gonna' come easy.

The man, the myth, the legend has returned to the Tampa Bay Lightning. Evan Oberg was promoted once again to the Bolts as an insurance call-up, as Marc-Andre Bergeron remains out and did not travel with the team.

Oberg has seen multiple call-ups since his acquisition from the Florida Panthers, but he has seen nary a moment of NHL playing time during those recalls. He has been effective when playing AHL hockey though. He's played 13 games with the Norfolk Admirals and has registered 2 goals and 4 assists and Is plus-5. His last goal was scored in the Ads win against the Albany Devils.

It feels unfair, from a fan perspective, for a player ot be yanked around like this... He is getting paid show dough for being carried on the Lightning roster, so that's a plus. Here's another plus that Ads and Bolts fans might want to consider: It rests Evan. Sitting idle may not be fun, nor helpful or the players overall development, but Oberg traveling with the Lightning, and staying with the Lightning is a huge change from life in the minor leagues. You're treated well and treated as a professional at this level. Now, how does that help the Ads? It goes back to a rested defenseman who isn't worn out from traveling ona cramped bus ont eh road, or playing back-to-back-to-back games. Come AHL playoff time, the extra rest could be an asset for Evan.

Or a liability if you believe rust is a factor.

Changing topics - Dana Tyrell was back to practicing at full speed during yesterday's workout at the Ice Sports Forum in Brandon. Ryan Shannon has been skating with the team, but in the red, no-contact jersey. Tyrell's return may be forced - ready or not, the Bolts are down another defenseman. Tom Pyatt was hurt during practice on Thursday and did not participate in the morning skate in Dallas.

No word on the starting goaltender for the Lightning as of this writing. Garon started and won on Tuesday - he may go again tonight in Dallas. Or, it could be Roloson. With neither goaltender being a consistent answer in net, it's all up in the air until a starter is declared.

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