Finally, opening night has arrived.
The Tampa Bay Lightning held their usual game day skate Saturday morning in preparation for their opening night game against the Washington Capitals, and Steven Stamkos talked afterwards about not letting your emotions get the best of you early in the game, when the crowd will be loud and both teams are expected to come out flying.
“I think for the veteran guys on this team, you go from past experiences,” Stamkos said. “You realize that you have been in this moment before. A little different scenario with the short season not having played for a long time, we have all played home openers before in our career and you just try to control the emotions. Obviously we are going to be excited; we are going to feed off the fans energy. WE just want to make sure we are not making careless mistakes out there because guys are too amped up to play. I think we will be fine. We have enough veteran leadership on this team that guys are going to be in control and try to set the pace of the game and feed off the crowd in a good way.”
Still, with the opponent being the Washington Capitals, and with the shortened season, the Lightning realizes the importance of this opening night contest.
“Every game is huge in this league, especially in a short season,” Stamkos said. “You can’t afford to take any nights off. Being on home ice tonight, we have to take that to our advantage tonight, and build off the energy in the building. The fans have been great in supporting us in this long process and we want to obviously put up a positive result today. We realize the magnitude of this game and we want to start it off on the right foot.”
Lightning coach Guy Boucher said the team needs to stay focused on keeping their emotions under control and also stays focused on the task.
“I am expecting a lot of emotion today,” Boucher said. “Both teams are going to come out like lions out of a cage. Everyone knows that. The fans are going to bring a lot of enthusiasm in this building. We have to come out and make sure 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 are just overdoing everything. I think right now that is the danger and we want to stay away from that.”
Lightning goaltender Anders Lindback will make his debut for the team Saturday night, and will face off against Braden Holtby for the Capitals. Lindback is 0-1-1 with a 3.47 GAA and .877 save percentage against the Capitals in two games played.
Referees: Ghislain Hebert, Eric Furlatt
Linesman: Mark Shewchyk, Scott Cherrey