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Let Tampa Bay Lightning Hockey Season Begin

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On Saturday night, Tampa Bay Lightning hockey resumes at the St. Pete Times Forum with the season opener against the Atlanta Thrashers.

On the eve of the 2010-2011 hockey season, fans have plenty of questions: Will this year's defense be better than last year? How do our goalies stack up against the rest of the league? How about special teams - will the power play unit be any good?

John Fontana and Cassie McClellan are the managing editors of Raw Charge, the best Lightning blog you can find.

Those two, along with the fantastic writing staff of Nolan Whyte, Meredith Qualls, Dani Toth and others have come up with a comprehensive Lightning season preview that answers each of those questions, plus a whole lot more. You seriously need to read in its entirety, but here are a few nuggets:

  • The team made a number of changes over the off-season, from management to coaching to players. In most cases, the changes are viewed as an improvement over last season.
  • The Bolts new brain trust has instilled confidence and stability throughout the organization. Rather than dealing with a constant sideshow act, the main focus is now on the hockey team.
  • Not all units saw change. The defense remains largely intact, and through the preseason at least, it seems as if the team may continue to struggle.
  • Likewise, goaltending is not viewed as a strength of the 2010-11 Lightning. Dan Ellis was brought in to help shore it up a bit, but thus far, he has only contributed to off-ice distractions.

There is a lot more from Raw Charge, too - well worth your time.

I'd love to hear your thoughts too. Last season, the Lightning finished 8 points out of the playoffs. Will the team fare better this year, worse, or the same?

Photographs by cstreet.us, thelastminute, turtlemom nancy , fesek, kthypryn, justinwright, sue_elias, pointnshoot, and scrapstothefuture used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.