TAMPA — The travel never gets easier, but as Steven Stamkos put it, it’s all part of the job .
Your own bed, a home-cooked meal — “You can’t beat that,” says Stamkos — these are things that players miss when away from Tampa Bay.
The Lightning are beginning a three-game home-stint coming off a six-game stretch on the road. And while many of these players are used to the mental and physical fatigue that often accompanies a road trip, it’s refreshing to be back in familiar territory, at least for a little bit.
Tampa Bay tallied seven points away from Amalie Arena with wins against Toronto, Montreal and Boston, and an overtime loss at Carolina.
“I think we were pretty exhausted by the end of our last trip,” Stamkos said. “It’s better to do it at the beginning of the year, I think, than at the end. You’re a little more fresh right now, and if you can gather up some points on the road like we just did, it’s only going to help us down the stretch when we have more home games.”
Ryan McDonagh also feels the wear and tear being away from home for so long.
“It’s always tough,” McDonagh said. “But at the same time, you have your teammates there and you’re all battling together. You have to make do with what you’ve got.”
And he likes having that kind of test early on in the season because it helps the team grow playing at another team’s venue, battling against the energy of the opponent's home crowd.
“You get to see a little bit of everything ... and you don’t get to dictate as much as far as matchups,” he said. “It creates a challenge for everyone to be 100 percent on the same page and get battle-tested.”
Tonight’s home game against the Avalanche feels like another home opener, McDonagh said.
Following Tampa Bay’s three-game stint at home, the Lightning will hit the road again, against the Rangers, Devils and Islanders before traveling abroad to Stockholm, Sweden, for the NHL Global Series against the Buffalo Sabres on Nov. 8 and 9.
After Tampa Bay’s matchup against the Predators next weekend, the team won’t be back home until Nov. 14 when it takes on the New York Rangers.
“We got one more big trip coming up and then you can kind of see the light at the end of the tunnel in terms of the schedule, where we can play a more consistent home and away schedule,” Stamkos said.
Post-game concert moved inside due to weather
Lightning fans won’t have to worry about the remnants of Tropical Storm Nestor after tonight’s game. The Pepsi concert featuring LoCash will be inside Amalie Arena instead of on Thunder Alley as originally planned.
Fans without tickets to the Lighting-Avalanche game can still attend the concert. Wristbands are available for pickup at the ReliaQuest Ticket Office up to 30 minutes after the game ends.
Fans can start lining up outside of the ticket office when the third period begins. They’ll get moved inside following the end of the game.
Wristbands will be distributed on a first-come, first-serve basis, and those with tickets to the game will not need a wristband to attend the concert.
The event celebrates Pepsi’s partnership with the Lightning, which is new this season after Tampa Bay’s deal with Coca-Cola Co. expired. Amalie Arena is the only pro sports venue in the area with a Pepsi deal as Raymond James Stadium and Tropicana Field are both sponsored by Coca-Cola Co.