Lightning will use same lineup as Saturday; Smith said Niittymaki "deserves" to play
Mike Smith is healthy enough to play, and ready to get back in the net, but said he had no problem with backup goaltender Antero Niittymaki starting Monday for the second straight game.
“He deserves to be in there, he got us our first win this year,” Smith said. “He played really well and made some big stops at key times. If this team is going to win this year it’s going to be because of great goaltending, not just from myself but from Nitty, too. So it’s important to have two guys that can get in there and play well. If one guy is hurt or one guy is not playing well as well as they can, the team is confident in either guy, so that’s important.”
Lightning coach Rick Tocchet put it simply: “This is the Tampa Bay Lightning, not the Smitty Lightning or the Vinny Lightning,” Tocchet said. “Nitty deserves to play, so he’s playing. I mean, Smitty is going to play a ton for us.”
*Tocchet said Lukas Krajicek played well Saturday, so even though Kurtis Foster appears ready to play, Krajicek gets the call tonight.
Other notes from practice....
*Tocchet said even though Vinny Lecavalier and Alex Tanguay haven't scored a goal yet, they're not in panic mode, and are doing "the right things when they're not scoring."
"Vinny...is getting a ton of chances," Tocchet said. "I think (Tanguay) early in the season had a couple of chances in the slot and shot it wide or over the net; he could easily have three, four goals and we wouldn't even be talking about this. On good teams, some lines will cary the team through certain stretches...As long as they're playing our team system, they're fine."
*Tocchet praised the work of the third line, saying they've probably been the most consistent so far this season, and the play of Steve Downie, who is drawing penalties (and not taking as many) as well as adding energy to the fourth line.