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It’s a beautiful day in Chicago today – at least I think it is.
You can barely see the downtown Chicago skyline on the horizon from the Lightning’s hotel in Oak Brook, thanks to the radiology convention that has the city booked. It took a 45-minute bus ride to get to the hotel from the airport yesterday afternoon, so Lightning coach John Tortorella canceled the morning skate to save everyone a lot of hassles. The team had a meeting in the hotel today and will head to the arena at for tonight’s game, one of only three the Bolts will play in a different time zone this season.
After the meeting Tortorella met with the media and broadcasters and said Chicago is a team the Lightning will need to play simple against.
“They’ll be stacking the neutral zone and we need to make a quick play to get it in there,” he said. “They play a 1-3-1, so we need to come back and get the puck out together. I think we’re one of the best teams in the league playing offensively below the hash marks, but we need to get it there.”
Tortorella also said the Lightning’s top players need to lead the way to avoid slow starts, and that the team needs to get better at dealing with surges by making bigger plays. He also said defenseman Filip Kuba is a question mark for tonight due to his abdominal injury, and if he can’t play the team will go with five defensemen and dress Andreas Karlsson as an extra forward.
It’ll be interesting to see the revitalized Blackhawks tonight with their young stars. The last time the Lightning faced the Hawks was 2005-06 in Tampa, and the team’s last visit to Chicago was 2003-04 (both Lightning victories).
On another note, next Tuesday’s game against the Ottawa Senators at the St. Pete Times Forum has been designated Dave Andreychuk Foundation Night, as the former Lightning captain kicks off his efforts to support Tampa Bay Youth Hockey & St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital. Ticket packages for $32 and $78 include entry into a raffle to win Lightning merchandise and a donation to the foundation, while the $150 Andreychuk Meet and Greet Package includes a private party area on the Jeep Club Level and a visit from Andreychuk. Anyone interested should call Kelvin Woodson at 813-301-6832.