Greetings from a wet and rainy Montreal as the Lightning prepare for Game 4 of their first round series against the Montreal Canadiens tonight. For the first time this year Tampa Bay faces an actual “must win” game as they trail the best-of-seven series three games to none and must win tonight to force a Game 5 in Tampa on Thursday.
This morning the Lightning to a man said they must focus on this game only and not look ahead. The good news is after the first 10 minutes of the first period in Game 3 the Bolts played probably their best hockey of the series. Tonight they will try and carry that momentum over from the drop of the puck.
It appears the line-up will not change from last game. That means Sami Salo, who missed Game 3 with an upper body injury, will once again be out. Anders Lindback came off the ice first and it look as though he’ll get the start. No surprise there. Lindback played very well last game and gave the Lightning the chance to come back.
Other big news from this morning was that Ben Bishop skated with the team for the first time since suffering the upper body injury. Jon Cooper did confirm that there is no chance of him playing tonight, although he didn’t rule him out if Tampa Bay is able to extend the series. Bishop said he felt good and that it was a big boost for him to be back on the ice with his teammates.
The Lightning will stay in Montreal tonight and fly back to Tampa tomorrow. The thought there is to let the players get a good night’s sleep instead of flying home after the game and not getting in until the early hours of the morning.
TV: Sun Sports
Radio: AM 970 WFLA
For the Fans – Cooper told the media today that the players want to win tonight to make sure the home fans get another game at the Tampa Bay Times Forum. If the Lightning were to win tonight Game 5 would be Thursday.
Power Up – In two of the three games in the series to date the Canadiens have had more power plays than the Lightning. Power plays were even at two in Game 1 but Montreal has had nine man advantages to Tampa Bay’s four in the two games since. Lucky for the Bolts, their PK units have been good, allowing just one power play goal.
The Lightning’s first round series against the Montreal Canadiens shifts to the heart of Quebec tonight as the Bolts and Canadiens meet for Game 3 at the Bell Centre in downtown Montreal. Tampa Bay trails the series two games to none and are still looking to find the game that propelled them to second place in the Atlantic Division during the regular season. Steven Stamkos said this morning that the most disappointing thing so far in the series is that the Lightning have not played their game. Hopefully they will be able to find it tonight to avoid going down 3-0.
Jon Cooper left a lot to the imagination this morning in regard to tonight’s line-up, not revealing any changes. Anders Lindback came off first after the morning skate, but Cooper said the goaltender would be a game time decision as well. Ondrej Palat, who missed Game 2 with an upper body injury, skated both yesterday and today and will also be a game time decision. He said he feels good. Palat has been a huge part of Tampa Bay’s success this season so hopefully he is ready to go.
Something struck me on the team charter yesterday from Tampa to Montreal. There were a lot of career NHL goals on that plane, 2,992 to be exact. Here’s a breakdown:
- Radio Color Commentator, Phil Esposito - 717
- Vice President and General Manager, Steve Yzerman - 692
- Vice President, Dave Andreychuk - 640
- Assistant General Manager, Pat Verbeek - 522
- Assistant Coach, Steve Thomas - 421
That’s a pretty impressive group.
In what is a strange occurrence, the Lightning held a 10:30 a.m. morning skate today. The 10:30 a.m. time slot is usually reserved for the home team, with the visitors skating at 11:30 a.m., but with the Canadiens practicing at their facility in Brossard, Quebec the Bolts elected to take the earlier time. They are scheduled to practice tomorrow at the Bell Centre before Tuesday’s Game 4.
TV: Sun Sports
Radio: AM 970 WFLA
Salt in the Wound – Jon Cooper took what was a playful job at the Canadiens this morning when speaking with the media. “It’s not like they’ve ever had a 2-0 lead heading home and blown it,” Cooper said, referring to the 2011 playoffs when Montreal took a 2-0 lead to Montreal against the Boston Bruins and ended up losing the series. Boston went on to win the Stanley Cup, also defeating the Lightning in the Eastern Conference Final.
Non-Believers – Cooper also pointed out this morning that before the series began they looked at somewhere near 40 media predictions. Of those 40, only about five picked the Lightning to win.