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Lightning (1-0-0) vs. Blackhawks (0-0-0)
2010-11 Preseason: Tampa Bay (1-0-0); Chicago (0-0-0)
2009-10: Tampa Bay (34-36-12, 80 Points, 12th Eastern Conference); Chicago (52-22-8, 112 Points, 2nd Western Conference)
Inside The Series: Tonight’s game marks just the second preseason meeting between the two clubs, and the first in over a decade. The Bolts and Hawks last met on Sept. 17, 1999, with Chicago earning a 6-3 victory.
The Big Story: Tampa Bay’s top superstars in Vincent Lecavalier, Martin St. Louis, Steven Stamkos and Simon Gagne are scheduled to make their preseason debuts tonight against Chicago. Stamkos, the reigning Rocket Richard Trophy winner, looks to match the same success he enjoyed last season when he led the league with 51 goals, while Lecavalier, also a one-time Richard winner, seeks to return to the same form that earned him the award following the 2006-07 season. Chicago, on the other hand, will take the ice tonight with a new look after losing a good core of last year’s Stanley Cup team to free agency.
LIGHTNING – Tampa Bay plays its second consecutive game on the road tonight, signaling the halfway point of its four-game preseason road trip. The Bolts posted a 7-4-1 record during the regular season in the second half of back-to-back games, and are hoping that same momentum can sustain itself throughout this season. The Lightning also earned at least a point in three out of four back-to-back preseason contests during last year’s exhibition campaign. The team kicked off its 2010 preseason last night with a 4-2 win at Dallas. Adam Hall scored twice for the Bolts, who also received goals from Dominic Moore and Mattias Ohlund. Dan Ellis also stopped 17 of 19 shots in his Lightning debut.
BLACKHAWKS – Tonight’s matchup is Chicago’s first game of the 2010 preseason. The Blackhawks play four of their seven preseason games on the road, with the final two exhibition contests set for Oct. 1 and Oct. 3 at home. Chicago wrapped up its most successful training camp in years, with several thousands of fans coming out to support the defending Stanley Cup champions. The Blackhawks take on a new look tonight, as the club features several offseason acquisitions after this summer’s free agency period, including Ryan Potulny, Fernando Pisani and Marty Turco.
Who To Watch For: If last season’s success serves as an indication, Tampa Bay’s Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis are primed for a second consecutive big year with at least 90 points apiece, as they finished among the top-five scorers in the NHL last season. Vincent Lecavalier and Simon Gagne are both looking for rebound years after suffering various injuries which yielded a decrease in point production. For Chicago, key components of last season’s Stanley Cup run are expected to face off against the Bolts this evening, as Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Brian Campbell, Patrick Sharp and Marian Hossa all appear on tonight’s roster.
Injury Report: LIGHTNING – Mike Smith (fractured finger tip, out 1-2 weeks), Matt Smaby (upper body, day-to-day), Mitch Fadden (upper body, day-to-day) and Sean Bergenheim (upper body, day-to-day). BLACKHAWKS – None.
Quotable: “For me there is absolutely no time to waste to get better and faster. I’m all about getting an edge and not wasting time, getting guy to be at their top level at all moments. Then it becomes a habit.” – Head Coach Guy Boucher