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New-Look Lightning Looking To Get Out to Quick Start
Preparing to drop the puck on the 2009-10 season tonight, the Tampa Bay Lightning head into Atlanta to face the Atlanta Thrashers at Philips Arena just six days after cruising to a 5-1 victory when the Southeast division rivals met in the Bolts’ final preseason match-up.
Following a summer which saw the Lightning’s roster bolstered by the drafting of Victor Hedman, selected second overall in June’s NHL entry draft, and the signing of proven NHL mainstays, Mattias Ohlund and Alex Tanguay, head coach Rick Tocchet's Bolts are looking to capitalize on a unique mix of promising young talent and seasoned veteran leadership it brings to the ice this year.
Similarly, with their own growing nucleus of skilled youth, the Thrashers are striving to build upon the late run of victories they saw in the latter half of their 2008-09 campaign as the team seeks just its second playoff berth in 10 seasons.
This evening’s game is the first of six regular season tilts between the two clubs. In 2008-09, the Lightning recorded just two wins in six meetings with the Thrashers (2-3-1).
Up next, the Bolts make a quick stop in North Carolina to play the Hurricanes on October 6 before returning to the friendly confines of the St. Pete Times Forum for their home opener against New Jersey on Thursday, October 8.
Tampa Bay Lightning: Plenty of Lightning debuts tonight, the most notable of which belong to left wing Alex Tanguay, and defensemen Mattias Ohlund and Victor Hedman, who makes his NHL debut this evening as well.
Blueliners Andrej Meszaros and Paul Ranger, along with goaltender Mike Smith, face their first live, regular season action since being sidelined with injuries in early 2009.
Given the exciting clip at which the power play has been converting under the tutelage of new assistant coach Adam Oates, watch for the Bolts to continue where they left off in their last meeting with Atlanta when they scored a trio on the man-advantage.
Atlanta Thrashers: Evander Kane, fourth overall pick in the 2009 entry draft, also makes his NHL debut tonight.
Former Bolt defenseman, and new Atlanta acquisition, Pavel Kubina, is expected to start for the Thrashers as are forwards Nik Antropov and Bryan Little, both of whom are likely to see ice time alongside captain Ilya Kovalchuk on the squad’s top line.
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