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Marty St. Louis
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When the Tampa Bay Lightning earned the right to pick first overall in the 2008 draft, "Seen Stamkos?" billboards went up all around the area. It was no secret that Steven Stamkos was their guy, set to become the face of the franchise.
Hours before his big night, Adam Oates wasn't too nervous to crack a joke."I'm excited. That's why I was stuttering right there, yeah. I am very excited," Oates said Saturday afternoon. "I'm very excited to coach these guys. I think they're a great team and I'm excited to being a coach and just really looking forward to getting it going."
It has been one unbelievable "M*A*S*H" kind of year for the Lightning, with injuries contributing to a season that started with lofty expectations but went off the rails. But Tampa Bay is suddenly getting healthier — getting back the likes of Victor Hedman, Tom Pyatt and Ryan Shannon perhaps just in time.
Minimal fanfare surrounded opening night for the Washington Capitals. Their 2010-11 Southeast Division Champions banner was simply lowered into place, and the roster wasn't announced as happens in so many other buildings at the start of the season.
Coach Bruce Boudreau likes to say that good things happen when your best players play like it. Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and Alexander Semin are those guys for the Washington Capitals.
Watch the Lightning play in the neutral zone and you'll either be amazed by their structure or bored by how they're not really doing much.