Hockey season is *finally* here. It's been a long summer without it. Let's drop the puck already.

Enemy Blog: Head over to Thrashing the Blues or Blueland Chronicle for your oppenent blog coverage

After a weird game in Washington last night, where Ondrej Pavelec collasped two minutes in to their season opener, the Thrashers are in Tampa to open up the Lightning's season. The Thrashers have updated his condition to have a concussion and a headache, so I will presume he won't be playing tonight. Last night Evander Kane scored two goals and the other two came from former Blackhawk Andrew Ladd, and former Lightning Fredrik Modin.

Last year, Tampa, ok Niittymaki was, a bit of a Thrashers killer winning five straight games. But that was last year. This year it's all about new stuff: new ownership, new GM, new coach, new system and some new players. There is a lot of pressure on the Lightning not to win tonight, but to come out as a team of players that look like they have the potential. They just have to look good. No one is expecting them to be a huge success this year, but perhaps most improved team? That could be in the cards

The Lightning will open up the season tonight, then depart for their first road trip which will start in Montreal. The team has had a lot of time off between the pre-season and tonight to work on Boucher's new coaching style so we'll be looking to see if his system works in the NHL starting tonight. We'll get to see the debuts of Simon Gagne, Brett Clark and Pavel Kubina (well second debut) with the Lightning, and look to start the count of Stamkos goals for the season.

Like the Lightning, the Thrashers have gone through some changes during the summer, buying up bits during the Blackhawk fire sale. You'll see Ladd, Eager, Byfuglien and Sopel out there in Thrasher jerseys. Look for Evander Kane this year to make an impact on the Thrasher team, plus he's fun to watch.

If you still haven't gotten tickets yet, the Lightning still had some not sold and as per Cristodero some were selling for $8 each at the St. Pete Times box office. For reals.

Line-up Notes:

  • Mike Smith starts in goal for the Lightning
  • Chris Mason will be in goal for the Thrashers
  • Mattias Ohlund is out with injury. Dominic Moore is listed as day to day but he may play

Your pre-game reading links:

  • The team went paint balling together on Wednesday
  • Official Lightning preview
  • Raw Charge's game preview. They'll also have a game thread up for the game so if you want to chat head over there
  • Some writer over at SBN's Tampa Bay hub is trying to learn about hockey. She admits she had nothing remotely intelligent to say....."The coaches wear dapper suits and stand behind the players on the bench". Intelligent? No definately not. And use of the cliche 'Lightning Strikes' in the name of her post? Yeesh, child's play.

Game time: 7:30pm EST on SUN (HD) and on the radio at 620 WDAE