Start of Important Road Trip Begins Today
The Lightning traveled and arrived in Philadelphia yesterday afternoon for today's 5 p.m. game against the Flyers after a high-tempo practice at the Brandon Ice Sports Forum. Jeff Halpern and Lightning video coach Nigel Kirwan are in heaven at the hotel here in Philadelphia. Both New York Yankees fans, they were excited to find out the team was also staying at the hotel for the 2009 World Series. Seen in the lobby this morning were Kate Hudson, Reggie Jackson, Frank Robinson, former Ray Eric Hinske, Joe Girardi and Brian Cashman.
Today's game starts a stretch of four consecutive road games that are very important as the Lightning look to keep pace with Washington in the Southeast Division. "It's a very defining moment this week," Tocchet said. He said it will be important for the team to use its grit. "We're a different team when we lose our grit," he said.
Mike Smith will be the start in goal tonight over former Flyer Antero Niittymaki. Based on the way both goaltenders have been playing recently I really don't think a wrong decision could be made here.
It looks as though Vincent Lecavalier may have new linemates tonight after he practiced with Drew Miller and Stephane Veilleux on Sunday. Head Coach Rick Tocchet acknowledged that Vinny is struggling, and its not just about scoring. Tocchet said the team can live with his not scoring, but all the players need to be responsible defensively, and that is where he feels Vinny's game has slipped of late. Tocchet said he's looking for more "foot soldiers", citing the play of Steven Stamkos, Ryan Malone and Martin St. Louis.
With a win last night, the Yankees are looking to close out the series tonight at 8 p.m., the reason why the Lightning and the Flyers are facing off at 5:00pm today. Fans can still find the game on 620wdae or Sun Sports, or better yet, a local watering hole for a little Lightning Happy Hour this afternoon.