THE LIGHTNING INSIDER
The Lightning need to continue playing well at home tonight when they take on a hungry Thrashers team at the St. Pete Times Forum. Atlanta got their first win out of the way Thursday against the New York Rangers, but they don’t want to drop to 1-7 in the early season. The Lightning, on the other hand, need a win after dropping two in a row. The past two seasons the Lightning haven’t been as dominant at home as they would’ve liked, so tonight is the time to make a statement.
Based on the morning skate it looks like Johan Holmqvist will get the nod for the sixth consecutive game, while Matt Smaby will play on defense instead of Doug Janik. Marc Denis will likely get his first start of the season Wednesday in Washington or at home Thursday when an explosive Philadelphia team visits.
It will be interesting to see if John Tortorella sticks with his plan of switching Michel Ouellet and Jason Ward, as he indicated he might after the game in Boston. Ward played some good minutes alongside Brad Richards last season, and maybe he can help the second line produce more. Also, one would expect the Lightning’s top line to be firing tonight after having a rare pointless game against Boston.
For the Thrashers, Johan Hedberg is expected to get the start after Kari Lehtonen was placed on injured reserve by the team yesterday. GM Don Waddell is behind the bench for his second game after relieving Bob Hartley of his duties Wednesday.