Yes, its only four games into the season, but I'm already starting to squirm. It's not as much the lack of consistent/good play as it is the disheartening nature of how things have gone down since the season opener. A shutout, a real butt-kicking, and then the familiar high hope-let down in front of a packed house in Sunrise hasn't given me much to be excited about. As usual, the talent is there...but where is the production. I know it's very early in the season, and don't get me wrong I'm not freaking out yet, but when is it time to say ‘OK, where is the spark? Where is the finished product of the talent we all know is there?"
Well...there have been plenty of times in the past where playing against the Lightning is good for what ails ya, so we have to hope that tonight is more of the same. For what its worth, Tampa is unbeaten at home (in regulation) at 1-0-1. They came within one second of beating the Devils last week, and have had some success on the power play (19% success rate). Their penalty killing, however, is the 2nd worse in the conference.
The only lineup change for the Cats tonight should be on defense, with Jason Garrison getting sent back to Rochester and Bryan Allen returning to the lineup. It turns out that Allen was held out of Saturday's lineup just to give his surgically repaired knee a rest, which will be a regular thing by Coach DeBoer. Pete said that calling up Garrison would be a ‘regular' thing as they don't want to overwork Allen.
I wish I had more for you guys, but I've been banging this pregame out while working this morning. Unfortunately, there will be no local broadcast for tonight's game. I'm not sure if those of you enjoying the free preview of the NHL Center Ice (or whatever it's called) will be able to pick the game up, but that'd sure be nice. Otherwise, you can hear the game locally on WAXY 790 on the AM dial (I think its 760 up in West Palm).
For even more Panthers-Lightning, head over to Raw Charge the SB Nation page under a severe thunderstorm warning (bad Lightning joke). Go Cats Go!!