The Tampa Bay Lightning come into Nassau Coliseum after throttling the New York Rangers 5-1 at Madison Square Garden last night. They have also earned 28 points in the young season so far, which is good for second in the entire NHL.
“I think these guys are the best team we played,” Islanders defenseman Thomas Hickey explains. “Even though we haven’t played Montreal yet. Standings wise these guys are really good, they proved that last night and recently against us.”
Last Saturday night the Lightning defeated the Islanders 5-2. Ryan Callahan tallied two points and received first star honors.
The second night of back-to-back games are tough in todays NHL climate but the Islanders are not expecting any sort of let down from the Lightning.
“When you have athletes like that the back to back doesn’t matter at all” head coach Jack Capuano says. “I have said this before but I like when our team plays back to back games. I like when we continue to play and not have that long rest, we play better. They got a quick team and they are fast.
“Tonight it is how we manage the puck,” Capuano continues. “I think we learned last time we went in there as quick as they are in transition we have to make sure we are smart.”
The Lightning were a pleasant surprise last season winning 46 games under first year head coach Jon Cooper. But with several offseason additions including Brian Boyle and Anton Stralman they are poised to make some noise in the Eastern Conference.
“They have depth, speed and they are young” Hickey describes. “It is a very dangerous combination. They have more live legs on a back-to-back game then a lot of other teams do. The way they are built with four lines that could score and some really good checkers in there. We got to be ready to skate tonight the pace is going to be high.”
The Islanders will also face a familiar face tonight with the return of Evgeni Nabokov. It his is first time returning to Nassau Coliseum since signing with Tampa Bay in the offseason.
“He was just very vocal,” Ryan Strome says about Nabokov. “He was a calming effect and always willing to speak up no matter what the situation was. I think that is good for a young team but now we have matured another year. Not to say we don’t miss him but I think other guys have stepped up and we have made some good pick ups. He was great for us and we miss him but a good chance to stick it to him tonight a bit.”
By: Scott Charles
WLIE 540 AM SPORTSTALKNY Staff Writer
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