©Pensacola News Journal
Brian Eklund, the Pensacola Ice Pilots’ goalie for the past two seasons, is the third goalie for Tampa Bay as the Lightning plays for the NHL’s Stanley Cup. The Lightning play host to Calgary tonight in Game 5, and the Flames will be without the suspended Ville Nieminen. That action led Calgary coach Darryl Sutter to complain that some in the NHL are against the Flames.
It’s a classic move by a coaching staff. I know John Tortorella, our coach here, took a lot of the heat in the Philly series when he started the war of words with (Flyers coach Ken) Hitchcock. We had just gotten blown out in the game. Instead of being talked about for two, three days, “What’s wrong with us?,” it’s all about “Torts” and Hitchcock. It’s a classic move to deflect attention from the team to the coaching staff.
It’s not a great time for anything (like a suspension). This is probably the biggest game of either team’s career. We’re looking at Game 5 in our building. If we win, we’re up, 3-2. If we lose, we’re down, 3-2, and going to Calgary.
We’re in a three-game series. Every game is enormous. You can see it in the locker room. Everybody is doing something extra, whether it’s watching extra videotape or getting an extra stick taped up. They’re doing everything they can to be prepared.
They don’t want to look back on this and say, “If we had only done this or that.” They want to cover all the bases.
(Wednesday) was a very spirited practice — but probably not our best practice of the year. Guys were nervous, gripping the sticks tighter.