There are worse things I could be doing. Here in Tampa, beautiful sunny day, about 70 degrees, not a cloud in the sky. I’m sitting by the channel watching the activity on the water. Although I’m sitting by a little outdoor bar (note to management, I’m just having a Coke), it’s hard to believe there is a key hockey game in a few hours.
Enough of that.
As I reported yesterday, Johan Hedberg will be back in goal tonight. No surprise that he will be facing Antero Niittymaki, owner of a 16-0 record against the Thrashers. Could this be the night that streak ends?
Here are some pre-game thoughts from the locker room:
Hedberg: “It’s a team that has played tough against us all year. They are patient and play well defensively against us. We know they have a lot of firepower. We have to play a complete game, limit our turnovers and mistakes and don’t shoot ourselves in the foot.
“They are a team in a [five-game] losing streak, you know they are going to snap out of it sooner or later. They are going to be hungry. They still have a chance to make the playoffs so they are going to be fired up.”
Chris Thorburn: “It’s a little cliché, but it’s a four-point game. It’s the last time we play them, we want to sure we spread ourselves out [in the standings] a little bit more and give ourselves a fair shot and control our own destiny.
“We are just playing the right way right now. Everyone is playing the system and playing for each other. When you have that, everyone going as a unit, it’s pretty hard to beat. E have to keep the same mindset, don’t get too high or too low.”
John Anderson: “Every game is the biggest game of the year for us right now. It’s big for both teams – for Tampa to keep pace and for us to put a nail in their coffin, tonight is the night.
“They are certainly a dog backed up against a corner. We have to be ready tonight. We’ve got to keep our chances against down and they’ve been having trouble keeping goals out. If we keep them out of our zone, we should have a good chance tonight.”
Looks like the lineup is the same. Anderson told me yesterday he did not anticipate any lineup changes.