|1st Pacific Division||5th Southeast Division|
|1st Western Conference||T-12th Eastern Conference|
Okay, let's try this again.
The Sharks will no doubt be a snarling bunch of selachimorphas after last night's 4-3 loss to the Panthers. Not shooting wasn't the problem; San Jose fired 50 shots at Tomas Vokoun as compared to Florida's 35. Unfortunately, two of Florida's shots were by Cory Stillman. Between a former Predators goaltender and a former Flames (and Blues and Lightning and Hurricanes and Senators) forward who's obviously regained his scorer's touch, ah well. There's also the (ahem) "minor" detail of how the defensive pairing of Rob Blake and Marc-Edouard Vlasic registered a minus three for the game...
Anyway, San Jose will be playing Tampa Bay tonight in a game where the only possibility of local interest stems from the probability that Game Three of the World Series between the Rays and the Phillies will most likely be rained out. The Lightning certainly aren't void of talent; there isn't a team in the NHL that wouldn't love to have Vincent Lecavlier and Martin St. Louis on its roster. Overall, though, it's difficult to remember this team won the Stanley Cup in 2004. There's a promotion for tonight's game where fans who buy a flu shot from Walgreens for $25 can purchase a game ticket for as little as $10. This is only appropriate as thus far Tampa Bay's fans (I assume they still have some) must feel like they have the flu whenever they contemplate the current state of their team, led by ownership that thinks Barry Melrose can lead the Lightning back to the promised land. Really. I mean, really.
There's no local television tonight, which is a pain as another promotion taking place at the St. Pete Times Forum tonight is called 'Pink Out Night' where all fans in attendance are encouraged to wear pink to raise awareness of and make donations to combat breast cancer. Having had both family and friends suffer with breast cancer there's nothing amusing about it. However, the thought of seeing a bunch of hockey fans in pink... and why not make the players wear it as well, selling both the game-worn and replica jerseys then donating the proceeds to cancer research? C'mon, NHL. One-off special jerseys are a slam dunk at the souvenir stand.
Anyway, David Pollack reports Brain Boucher will be starting tonight. Whether this was pre-planned or because Evgeni Nabokov has been less than stellar the past three games is unknown. And there's the whole "Dan Boyle returns to Tampa Bay" angle, but that's been covered by most every everyone already.
Enjoy the game.