Good times are around the corner. I wish I could say that there was a crisp chill in the air to herald in the new season, but I live in Florida. That means instead of cool September nights we get the height of hurricane season. The good news is that September also means hockey is here.
Tonight, compliments of the outrageous amount of free tickets the Lightning have given away, I will be attending their only preseason home game. Decked in my new Vinny jersey (the first named jersey I’ve owned) I will be watching the Bolts take the ice against division rivals Atlanta Threshers.
A couple of questions will be addressed tonight. First, how will Mike Smith fare in his first live game action since January. He is slated to play the first two periods and the coaches will be looking at more than the box score to judge how his performance is. His recovery from post concussion syndrome is the biggest key to the Lightning’s season.
Question number two revolves around the captain. More specifically who will play on his line. The newest Bolt, Alex Tanguay, will be on his left wing. Tryouts for his other wing will take place over the next three weeks. The first contestant will be young Carter Ashton. Ashton, the second pick in this year’s draft, was a dark horse to make the team. If he isn’t overwhelmed by the speed and physicality of the NHL he could be the perfect match for the prolific Lecavalier. As a large body in front of the net he would be useful in banging home rebounds or redirecting Vinny’s shots from the circles.
Victor Hedman will be making his home debut after playing 700 minutes against Dallas on Wednesday. The Big Swede hopefully won’t log 27 minutes like he did against the Stars. While it’s nice to see the coaches have confidence in him, there’s no need for him to be worn out in the pre-season.
These games don’t count, unless someone gets hurt, but it will be nice to see how the team looks on the ice. With the Rays and O’s grinding out disappointing seasons and the Ravens only playing once a week it’s nice to see the return of hockey on a semi-daily basis.