THE LIGHTNING INSIDER
The musical selections that can be heard in the Lightning locker room are a lot more eclectic this season now that Brad Lukowich is back and Dan Boyle is out for awhile. With Boyle in charge the past two years, heavy rock was a safe bet though you might have heard The Tragically Hip, Barenaked Ladies or even some rap mixed in before the morning skates. As game time approaches the music generally moves from mellow to intense.
With Lukowich manning the iPod, he seems to think it's his personal mission to expand the musical tastes of everyone in the room. This morning, for example, the players were treated to a little Johnny Cash before the skate, leading to a few quizzical looks from those too young or too European to recognize "I Walk the Line."
After the opening win against New Jersey - a situation in which Boyle likely would've opted for a hard-driving Nickelback or Three Days Grace selection - Lukowich chose a mellow Red Hot Chili Peppers ballad (even though he once worked as a roadie for Nickelback and had Three Days Grace at his 2004 Stanley Cup Party). Maybe he already knew what John Tortorella's mood was going to be after he watched the game tape...
Former Lightning forward Eric Perrin was an early arrival at today's morning skate, exchanging pleasantries with Lightning staff and broadcasters as he entered the locker room area. After signing with the Thrashers during the summer, the pressure will be on “EP” to deliver this year in Atlanta.
Outsiders seem to think Tortorella is tough on his players all the time, but no coach in the NHL is more focused on making sure his team is adequately rested. Case in point – today’s morning skate at the St. Pete Times Forum was the first of many that will be optional for the players this season. While most of the Lightning participated anyway, Tortorella gave the players the choice to rest. Mike Sullivan ran the 30-minutes session with help from Jeff Reese and Nigel Kirwan.
The Thrashers followed the Lightning with an optional as well after playing last night in Atlanta, but the majority of the team was on the ice after their loss against Washington. Ilya Kovalchuk, Marian Hossa and Alexei Zhitnik were among those who were absent.
Tortorella and Atlanta coach Bob Hartley both like to stick to a schedule on game days and much to the chagrin of the media, broadcasters and PR staffs, their schedules always collide when the Thrashers are in town. Tortorella meets with the media at 11 a.m. on home game days, the exact same time Hartley chose for his media chat time on the road. You have to be on your toes, but at least you don’t have to wait around.
Stogies were being handed out in the Lightning locker room this morning by head athletic trainer Tom Mulligan, who missed yesterday’s practice to welcome the arrival of Abigail Jean Mulligan. It’s the first daughter for Mulligan and his wife, Kellie, joining sons Tyler and Zach. Congrats!
The Lightning’s lineup tonight will be mostly the same as Thursday, with Johan Holmqvist getting the chance to build on his strong performance. The only change is that Doug Janik will be in on defense while Matt Smaby will sit this one out. Boyle, Andreas Karlsson and Ryan Craig are still out.