Arriving in Loveland, Colorado
Tuesday marked another late night for the Lightning after the game in Everett, Washington, which Tampa Bay won 2-1 behind two goals from Jeff Halpern and 32 saves from Mike Smith. We didn't have to deal with customs this time, just the time change. After leaving Washington in the Pacific time zone, the plane landed in Mountain time, costing the team an hour of sleep. So needless to say everyone will be looking for a few extra winks this afternoon as we arrived to the team hotel around 3:45 a.m. local time. Got to feel for the Coyotes though, their plane was too big to land in Loveland, so they had to fly to Denver and bus here for the game tonight.
The coaching staff, understanding the situation, gave the team a day away from the ice. The Lightning assembled for a noon lunch at the Budweiser Event Center and then returned to the hotel. The arena is a short walk from the hotel so a good number of the players just walked over instead of taking the bus. Vincent Lecavalier said this morning that the chance to sleep in really benefitted him and he feels great. Good thing too because he and a number of the Lightning's stars will see their first action of the trip tonight.
Now in Loveland, Colorado, we're on the other side of the great Rocky Mountains that we were looking at in Everett, Washington yesterday. Not much to see here. The only things around the hotel are the arena, a Harley Davidson store and a Hooters.
On the way out of Everett last night the bus passed by what the driver said was the "biggest building in the world," the Boeing warehouse. The airplane manufacturer is based in Everett. The building was enormous and the bay doors were open so we could see some of the planes under construction. Quite a sight to see.
In addition to Vinny, the rest of the Lightning line-up tonight looks like this: Antero Niittymaki will be in goal and he is expected to play the entire game. Up front are Lecavalier, Steve Downie, Ryan Malone, Alex Tanguay, Stephane Veilleux, Martin St. Louis, Zenon Konopka, Paul Szczechura, Martins Karsums, Blair Jones, Radek Smolenak and Steven Stamkos. Rounding out the line-up on defense will be Mattias Ohlund, Kurtis Foster, Matt Walker, Matt Lashoff, Victor Hedman and Mike Lundin.
After tonight’s game against the Coyotes, the Lightning will spend the night in Loveland and then head out tomorrow morning to Winnipeg for a Thursday night matchup with the Edmonton Oilers. That contest will be available on television nationwide to subscribers of the NHL Network.