2010 was a tumultuous year in Lightning land. New owners, general manager and a new coach sandwiched between a 19-21-2 finish to the 2009-10 season and a 22-11-5 start (1st place, Southeast Division) to the 2010-11 campaign, best in franchise history. The Lightning are certainly looking forward to more of the latter success in the coming year. Having already weathered a slew of injuries and ilnesses as well as the toughest part of their schedule, including two west coast road trips, they're set to focus on the task of winning games and ending a drought that has seen the Lightning excluded from the postseason since 2007.
First up on the first day of the new year is a visit from the New York Rangers (22-14-92, 3rd, Atlantic Division). The Rangers are 6-3-1 in their last ten games and have lost forward Eric Christensen for the next four to six weeks with a knee injury he sustained in the team's last game, a 3-1 win over the New Jersey Devils on December 30th. This will be the third meeting between the two teams this season, with Tampa Bay having won both previous games.
Tuesday, the Lightning begin a four-game road trip with a visit to the Washington Capitals (22-12-5, 2nd, Southeast Division). The Bolts and Caps are neck-and-neck in the Southeast with identical point totals (49) and with one less loss for Tampa Bay. Washinbgton appears to have recovered from a nasty December that saw them begin the month with an eight-game losing streak that knocked them out of first place. They've since won four of their last five. This will be the third time the two teams have met with Tampa Bay winless so far.
Wednesday night the Lightning pay a visit to the other Winter Classic participant, the Pittsburgh Penguins (25-11-3, 1st, Atlantic Division). The Penguins are 6-3-1 in their last ten. Sidney Crosby's league-best (so far) scoring streak of 25 games came to an end in a 2-1 shootout loss to the New York Islanders. The Bolts and Pens have split their previous two meetings this season.
Saturday, the Bolts will go north of the border to take on the Ottawa Senators (16-18-4, 3rd, Northeast Division). The Senators are 4-4-2 in their last ten games. Center Jason Spezza may not be available as he is listed as out indefinitely with a shouldr injury suffered in a win over Pittsburgh on December 26th. This will be the forst meeting of the year between Tampa Bay and Ottawa.