Preview: Emotions Run High As Bolts Look to Crush the Capitals Tonight


In what has been an explosive week in the world of hockey, the time for battle is upon us. At 7pm tonight, your Tampa Bay Lightning will take the ice to face off against Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals.

April 2, 2012; Tampa FL, USA; Washington Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom (19) skates with the puck as Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Brendan Mikkelson (29) defends during the third period at Tampa Bay Times Forum. Tampa Bay Lightning defeated the Washington Capitals 4-2. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

First of all, you asked, and I finally have an answer for you. Anders Lindback will indeed be in net tonight.

During his pre-game press conference earlier today, Coach Guy Boucher was asked if his decision was based on the fact that Lindback had played overseas during the lockout.

"“Yes, definitely. I feel that he’s played overseas, and I want to see him too.” Boucher said. “I’ve seen him play scrimmages now, but I think it’s time for him be thrown out there, and if the pool is cold or hot, we’ve got to jump in it.”"

Tonight’s roster will see 7 Defensemen and 11 Forwards. This is generally a format that Boucher likes to follow; however, it is not always possible. Last year posed particularly difficult for this type of lineup, but Coach Boucher feels more positive towards this year’s circumstance.

"“We had injuries back on D, and we didn’t have the quality of defensemen that we do this year.”"

When asked if he is nervous going into the first game of this shortened season, Boucher was full of solid positivity in his response.

"“You know what, it’s excitement. To me, once I start talking about nervous its negative to me. I think to me I don’t see it as a threat, I see it as a challenge. It’s great. I kind of live for that. So, we’ve had enough waiting now. It’s time to go.”"

October 10, 2011; Washington, DC, USA; Tampa Bay Lightning head coach Guy Boucher (M) talks with Lightning left wing Ryan Malone (12) and Lightning center Vincent Lecavalier (4) on the bench against the Washington Capitals in the third period at Verizon Center. The Capitals won 6-5 in a shootout. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

We all know that emotions are going to be running at a fierce pace tonight. Especially being the home opener. When asked how the team is going to handle this tonight, Coach Boucher  responded quite steadily.

"“Both teams are going to come out like lions out of a cage, everybody knows that. The fans are going to bring a lot of enthusiasm in this building. I think we have to come out and make sure that our emotions are under control. That’s what we need to do because then you fall into penalties and lose focus on the task and the systems and where you are supposed to be on the ice, and you’re just over doing everything. I think right now that’s the danger. We want to make sure we stay away from that. We want to be strong when we get on, we want to be at an emotional height that you need to be, but once you pass a certain point it’s called a climax; emotional climax. It ain’t good anymore. You fall into anxiety. You’re excitement becomes anxiety and then you don’t play well, you don’t think well, and you don’t react well.”"

Another person dealing with high emotions today is Lightning Forward Cory Conacher, who will be making his NHL debut tonight against the Caps.

"Sep 21, 2011; Orlando, FL, USA; St. Louis Blues goalie Ben Bishop (right) stretches for the puck as Tampa Bay Lightning center Cory Conacher (36) attempts to score on the rebound during the first period at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Douglas Jones-USA TODAY Sports“Today is going to be a lot of emotions, up and down.” Conacher said during today’s pre-game skate. “It going to be important for me to be able to control them somewhat and kind of act like I have been in this position before; to be comfortable, but not overly comfortable. To just move my feet and do the things I know how to do. It’s going to be a fun experience for me.”"

Martin St. Louis echoed the same type of sentiment after yesterday’s practice at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.

"“You just have to manage your ups and downs. You can’t get too down. You don’t have time to feel sorry for yourself. You just have to get ready to play the next game. Everything is going to happen quickly. Almost like a playoff attitude.”"

During today’s pre-game skate, Martin St. Louis addressed the media, and was asked about former Tampa Bay Lightning assistant coach, a new Head Coach of the Washington Capitals, Adam Oates.

"“He analyzes the game to a different level. Not just x’s and o’s and systems and what not. It’s tendencies and why some guys do certain things. He loves the game, and I think that’s one reason why we became friends pretty quick is because I have the some kind of love for the game.” St. Louis said. “He had a great transition from being a player to an assistant coach, then to a head coach. I think he was able to understand everything that comes with being a head coach. I think you learn a lot along the way, and I think he has done that. He made the jump, and I truly believe that he is ready for that. I think he is going to do a good job.”"

From what I saw in practice yesterday, our boys in blue are ready to hit the ice at full force and take all obstacles in their way. It is obvious that they have not been resting on their heels during the stoppage in work. They were fast, responsive, and all around aware of where they were on the ice.

Victor Hedman at the last day of practice before the 2012-13 Home Opener.

Credit: Tasha Meares

In my opinion, we have one of the best first lines in the NHL right now. They work together so seamlessly, as you have seen in seasons past. Combine that with the addition of Victor Hedman’s new, and greatly improved offense, I think we are going to be in for a treat tonight.

Tonight’s game has been officially sold out. A limited number of standing room only tickets went on sale at the McDonald’s Box Office at the Tampa Bay Times Forum this morning. I can only assume that it will indeed be a packed house tonight.

So, ladies, gentleman, and hockey fans all around the Bay, it is time to BE THE THUNDER!!

For those of you who cannot be at the Forum this evening, the game will be shown on Sun Sports. You can also listen live to the Lightning Radio Network on 970WFLA.

Now let’s get out there and Crush The Caps!!!