Is the Tampa Bay Lightning walking into a "hornet's nest" against the Hurricanes?
That question is exactly one Lightning coach Rick Tocchet and his coaching staff has been pondering. The Hurricanes have to be upset they have lost two straight. Coach Paul Maurice certainly was as he held a practice the day after back-to-back games.
"They are not happy at all," Tocchet said. "Like (Lightning associate coach) Rick Wilson said, 'We may be coming into a hornet's nest.' "
In fact, Tocchet said he and his staff have made the dangers clear to the Lightning players.
"There's no surprises," Tocchet said. "They're going to come at us hard, physical. They're not too happy right now. The coaches and the players have to know they have to be ready. There's no surprises; after the game, 'Woo, we didn't know they were going to come that hard.' They're coming hard. We know it. It's been addressed two days in practice. We read the papers. We know they're coming at us and we have to be ready."
"When teams play aggressive, you have to push back," Tocchet added. "That's our motto tomorrow."
The Lightning had a terrible time with the Hurricanes last season, going 0-4-2. Interestingly, Maurice has been saying a lot of the same things about his team Tocchet has said about the Lightning, how they have to be a tougher team to play against and not back down from physical challenges. Not only that, both teams apparently feel they did not play terribly bad in their first games, and could have won.
"One puck either way and we're not having these conversations. Paul Maurice is probably not having his guys going on the ice after back-to-back games, and I'm probably not saying we have to shore up our neutral zone," Tocchet said.
In other news, David Hale was paired with Andrej Meszaros during practice, which means it seems most likely Hale will get the call to play Tuesday in place of injured Kurtis Foster (lower body). Hale said after practice he had not heard if he is playing, and Tocchet said he still has not decided whether to use Hale or Lukas Krajicek.
He said he will re-evaluate on Tuesday after he sees Carolina's lineup.