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Lightning begins 'new journey' tonight

Lightning players prep for the season opener during the morning skate Thursday at Amalie Arena.


Lightning players prep for the season opener during the morning skate Thursday at Amalie Arena.



There will be a little pomp and circumstance tonight, with the Lightning unveiling its Eastern Conference championship banner at Amalie Arena.

It's opening night for Tampa Bay, coming off its remarkable run to the Stanley Cup Final, and there's a different feel as the team prepares to face the Flyers.

"Two years ago, it was a little bit more of us against the world type of attitude that nobody really cared about us," coach Jon Cooper said. "Now it's different because it's eyes-wide open now. We're not sneaking up on anyone this year."

With 11 of the first 16 games on the road, the Lightning emphasized the importance of a strong start, if it wants to even make the playoffs.

"This is the hardest opening month we've had," goalie Ben Bishop said. "We need to be in teh playoff picture at the end."

Cooper and captain Steven Stamkos said there will be a sense of accomplishment, some pride, when the banner is unveiled. But Stamkos believes it'll be short and sweet, quickly reminiscing before refocusing.

"Move on," he said. "And hope to win a game tonight."

*As for the lineup, the scratches appear to be Cedric Paquette (left foot) and Nikita Nesterov (healthy). The lines remain the same, with Drouin-Stamkos-Callahan/Palat-Johnson-Kucherov/Killorn-Filppula-Condra/Boyle-Namestnikov-Brown. The defensive parings had a little wrinkle, with Matt Carle and Andrej Sustr split up. Hedman and Stralman are in first pair, with Carle-Garrison and Coburn-Sustr. For the Flyers, it appears that former Lightning captain Vinny Lecavalier and defenseman Radko Gudas will be healthy scratches... Cooper noted the Flyers have a "boatload of skill," with Claude Giroux one of the "top five players in the league," noting they can't afford to put them on the power play. .Asked whether he watched last night's Stanley Cup banner unveiling in Chicago, Cooper quipped it was "movie night," he watched Matt Damon walk around Mars fora  few hours.

[Last modified: Thursday, October 8, 2015 12:52pm]


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