The game will mark the debut of the new lineup orchestrated by GM Steve Yzerman and head coach Guy Boucher this offseason after the Lightning were the worst team in goals allowed in the entire league a season ago.
That led to Yzerman sending away Dominic Moore, Pavel Kubina, and Steve Downie to acquire assets he used to trade for Nashville backup goaltender Anders Lindback, who will make his first start as a member of the Lightning tonight and will get the chance to become a legitimate #1 goaltender for the first time in his young career.
Defeseman Sami Salo makes his Lightning debut tonight after 13 seasons in the league with the Ottawa Senators and Vancouver Canucks and fellow defenseman Matt Carle makes what is technically not a debut (he played 12 games with the club in the 2008 season before being traded to the Philadelphia Flyers) with the Lightning as well.
We will soon find out how coach Guy Boucher has incorporated these new players alongside the core that has been in place since he became coach of the club and whether the Lightning will remain bottom feeders or return to the playoffs in 2013 after nearly making the Stanley Cup Final in 2010, his first season as a head coach in the NHL.
Meanwhile, the opposition has drastically remade themselves from last season.
From the top, head coach Dale Hunter, who instituted a tight-checking, defensive system predicated on goaltending and shot-blocking, is gone, returning to London to coach his London Knights of the OHL.
In his place is Adam Oates, most recently an assistant coach with Peter DeBoer of the Eastern Conference champion New Jersey Devils. Oates is expected to institute a more up-tempo, offensively minded system that favors the skills of Washington forwards Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom.
Braden Holtby will get the start for the Caps against Lindback for the Lightning.
Puck drops at 7PM EST tonight.
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