A link to the fire; Tampa Bay Lightning versus Calgary Flames preview

WHERE: St. Pete Times Forum, Tampa, Florida
WHEN: EST | | TICKETS: Check Availability
MEDIA: Sun Sports (cable), 970 WFLA (radio)
OPPONENT COVERAGE: Matchsticks and Gasoline, Flames Nation

The Flames and the Lightning are tied at the hip over their 2004 Stanley Cup Finals meeting. Of course, ties between the organizations are also around in the front office and on the roster -- Jay Feaster took over General Manager duties last season for the Flames, forward Alex Tanguay returned to the Flames in 2010 and rediscovered his scoring touch, and defenseman Cory Sarich has been on the Flames active roster since the 2007-08 season.

But while Feaster's tenure in Calgary has (relatively) just started, Sarich's is coming to an end. Cory requested a trade from the Flames and rumor had him being shopped well before the official trade request.

Add the fact both teams are in fourth place in their respective divisions, and you have another link between the two clubs. But the similarity there is only in appearance. The Flames have 30 points on the season (and are 6-2-1 in their past nine games), the Lightning have 26 and the dismal notion of one two regulation wins since November 9th.. The Flames compete in the much more competitive Western Conference. Oh, and they have wins against the Wild and Red Wings to their credit. You can't say the same for the Lightning this season.

You may or may not be aware the Lightning have been active in the transaction column this week, but the roster remains exactly the same. Defenseman Evan Oberg was recalled and demoted to the Norfolk Admirals, again. While he hasn't played, he may be thankful he's being paid for those healthy scratches.

The Bolts, on Monday, also had signed forward Antti Miettinen. The player nicknamed "Mittens" had played for Kazan of the HL this season, but was returning to the NHL. The two-year contract he inked with the Bolts was worth $3 million, and it could be assumed he was going to be 3rd line depth for the Lightning.

One problem: Miettinen had to pass through re-entry waivers before he could join the Bolts, meaning any of the 29 other NHL teams could claim him. And that's exactly what happened. Winnipeg snatched him up.

But as some people have joked, "there is more of a need for Mittens in Winnipeg than Tampa. It's a climate thing."

Mathieu Garon gets the start in net for the Lightning tonight... And that's not a surprise with Dwayne Roloson being chased in the Bolts 5-4 loss on Monday to the Devils. Erik Erlendsson at the Tampa Tribune noted yesterday:

In fact, over the past month, Roloson's numbers have dipped to the bottom of the league.

As of Tuesday, Roloson's 3.67 goals-against average ranked 68th out of 71 goaltenders, while his .882 save percentage ranked next-to-last among goaltenders with at least 10 starts, ahead of only Columbus' Steve Mason.

One final note, and this isn't so much about the game as the event surrounding the game: The Marines Toys For Tots program and the players wives/girlfriends are collecting toys before tonight's game:

Fans who bring new, unwrapped toys will be rewarded with a complementary ticket to one of three select Bolts games. The Ladies of the Lightning will be on the west plaza before each game to receive donations.

The mission of the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program is to collect new, unwrapped toys during October, November and December each year, and distribute those toys as Christmas gifts to needy children in the community in which the campaign is conducted.

Fans who bring a new, unwrapped toy will receive a free ticket to either the January 10 game against the Vancouver Canucks, the January 12 game versus the Carolina Hurricanes or the January 24 contest against the Columbus Blue Jackets. There is a limit of four tickets per person and it is subject to availability.

Even if you already have tickets to the aforementioned games, consider donating. It's for a good cause and tis the season.

Other Previews

Tampa Bay Lightning official team preview


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