As the Tampa Bay Lightning face off tonight against the Montreal Canadiens tonight at 7 pm EST, look for some returning players to make a difference in the Lightning’s game. Even after tonight’s game, Lightning fans will likely get their first glance at a newly acquired player during the next game at home versus the Vancouver Canucks. The next few games should be something for fans to look forward to, as we re accustom ourselves to old faces, as well as welcome new ones to the team.
To start with, Ryan Malone will be back in the lineup tonight in Montreal for the Lightning according to the Lightning Twitter handle @TBLightning. The big power forward has missed the last few games to a lower body injury. His presence in front of the net is undoubtedly huge for the Lightning and should help the Lightning’s physical presence both offensively and defensively. Malone last played on New Years Eve, when he recorded 3 assist and a plus 2 rating against the Hurricanes.
The biggest returning player is probably young forward Brett Connolly. The 19 year old scored 5 goals (including one game winner) and 1 assist, as he helped Team Canada to a bronze medal in the World Junior Hockey Championship. With the Lightning, Connolly has 4 goals and 4 assists in 28 games. As young as Connolly is, expect to see him receive more playing time from Lightning Head Coach Guy Boucher for the rest of the season. His performance on a national level was definitely impressive and should warrant more minutes at the NHL level as time goes on. View his team Canada profile here.
Steve Yzerman made a move yesterday (1/6) for a defenseman, which is a move every Lightning fan should have been expecting. The Bolts acquired Calgary defenseman Brendan Mikkelson for center Blair Jones. With six centers on the Lightning roster on most nights, the trading away of Blair Jones does not drag down the team’s depth in that area of the roster. However, the acquisition of Brendan Mikkelson greatly improves the defensive depth of the Lightning, which has been lacking lately with injuries. Expect Mikkelson to play Tuesday against the Canucks. For more information on Brendan Mikkelson click here. Official press release of the trade can be found here.
Note: Also playing tonight is minor league call up Pierre-Cedric Labrie.
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