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As expected, this will be my favorite preview to write this season. Two of my favorite teams playing each other in my home city...how much better could it get?

Well a Markus Naslund jersey retirement might make it even more awesome, non?

Yeah, tonight has the making to be awesome.

Enemy Blog: Head over to my other blog, Benched Whale,  for your opposition blog coverage

Record: Lightning (15-10-4) Canucks (15-8-3)

As I said in the intro, this is a pretty big game tonight. Markus Naslund is a big deal here in the city, and to have his #19 retired tonight will be a bit of a lovefest.

Besides being a talented player, and having much success (though never a cup) with the line named the Westcoast Express, Markus Naslund is remembered for being more than just a player. His work with Canuck Place Hospice and the multitudes of stories coming out about never refusing to autograph stuff for fans even after bad games show how big of an impression he was in the city. He played in Vancouver for 12 years, and was a captain for 8 of them. Tonight's ceremony will begin at 9:00pm EST (which you can watch on cbc.ca) but will be tape delayed to air on tv at 10:00pm EST. The game starts at 10:30 EST.

As for the game tonight, the Lightning face a tough Canucks team who have had lots of success on the powerplay. They have the same amount of wins that the Lightning have, but face a tougher conference. Cory Schneider will get the start tonight over Roberto Luongo but this does not necessarily give the Lightning any sort of advantage. Schneider is a calm goalie that isn't fazed by much and he hasn't let in those soft goals that Luongo is known for letting. Take a good look, we might be discussing him in the summer when we talk about goaltending for the Lightning.

The Canucks offense has finally had some more even scoring lately, with the 2nd line of Kesler, Raymond and Tambellini capitalizing on chances with their speed. Tambellini has had 3 goals and 3 assists in six games since returning to the lineup. And of course the Sedins and Burrows on the top line are always a threat. Their powerplay is rated first in the league with a 25% success rate and their PK is 4th in the league killing off 87%. So the key here is not to take any penalties.

As for the Lightning, the loss last night was much of what we've seen all season. I'm not blaming Ellis for last night's loss, as the defence did a great job at sucking. The Lightning had to play catch up for most of the game and eventually lost in the shootout. The team flew in to Vancouver last night.

As for that shootout goal from Omark goal? Not that big of a deal, get over it. We would be making fun of it if he didn't score.

The Lightning need to stay out of the box tonight, and the defence needs to play a very simple game. I'm sure they can't wait to get home after this roadtrip and have a few days off as the Western trips haven't been that nice to them this season.

Line-up Notes:

  • Mike Smith will probably get the start in goal since Ellis was in net last night 
  • Update: Dan Ellis is starting as per Joey Kenward's twitter
  • The Lightning are without Lecavalier and Downie
  • The Canucks will be without Christian Ehrhoff who took a puck to the ear earlier this week, Mason Raymond who has a broken finger and Sami Salo has been on the LTIR all season. Mikael Samuelsson might be back i nthe lineup tonight though after suffering through a concussion.

Your pre-game reading links:

Game time: 10:30pm EST on SUN (HD) and CBC (HD)