The Lightning Insider - Game Day
From Bratislava, Slovakia
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Game day in Bratislava. It's yet another beautiful, sunny morning in Eastern Europe. The food here has been surprisingly good, from the gourmet buffet at last night's gala to the "Kebab Arab" a few of us sampled from a late night street stand as we explored the city after the party. We ran into an interesting and friendly group at the stand (who helped us order our kebabs), including a Californian with a Slovak wife and a Slovak who now lives in Louisville. They were nice enough to explain to us that the strange older woman who had been following us for the past hour was waiting for a chance to pick our pockets. We figured out some hand signals that got the point across that she wasn't welcome anymore.
The Lightning headed back to the Soviet-era arena for a morning skate and looked sharp and ready to go. If you're trying to gauge how big of a deal tonight's game is for Slovakia, the press rep for HC Slovan said 120 media credentials have been issued and they're not sure where they're going to put everyone. The owner of HC Slovan has also been talking to the media about how badly he wants his team to win tonight. He's putting his money where his mouth is by offering each of his players 10,000 Euros (about $15,000) for a win tonight.
Tampa Bay's scratches tonight are Ryan Malone, Paul Ranger, Olaf Kolzig, David Koci, Janne Niskala, Michel Ouellet (who is on waivers and didn't skate this morning) and Gary Roberts. I'll provide another update tonight after the game.