Lightning lineup lacks playoff experience

| Tuesday, April 12, 2011

He's heard stories from teammates and watched it play out on TV for as long as he can remember. Beyond that, though, Lightning center Steven Stamkos has no idea what it's like to play in an NHL playoff game.

The thing is, he's not alone. In addition to Stamkos, eight Lightning regulars will make their NHL playoff debuts Wednesday when Tampa Bay faces the Penguins in Game 1 of their first-round series.

Even coach Guy Boucher is a newcomer. Don't get the idea, though, their lack of experience has the Lightning at a disadvantage. They believe they have plenty of experienced players to lean on for advice.

"I've been talking to guys like Marty (St. Louis) and Vinny (Lecavalier) for two years now about what it's like to be in the playoffs, so you do feel like you kind of know what to expect,'' Stamkos said.

"Of course, until you've played yourself, you really don't know. But we have played Pittsburgh four times already this year, so we feel like we know what we're getting ourselves into there. It's really just a matter of being prepared for that.''

In addition to Stamkos, forwards Sean Bergenheim, David Thompson, Teddy Purcell and Dana Tyrell, defensemen Victor Hedman, Mike Lundin and Matt Smaby and goalie Mike Smith are making their playoff debuts.

New building, same traditions

The Stanley Cup playoffs are here, which means the Penguins are encouraging their fans to take part in traditions that have become synonymous with springtime in Pittsburgh.

Fans attending playoff games at Consol Energy Center are being encouraged to wear white. Free white T-shirts will not be handed out this season, but there are plenty of opportunities for fans to coordinate their attire.

Specially designed shirts for males and females are being sold at local Dick's Sporting Goods locations and the PensGear store located at Consol Energy Center. The shirts are $14.99 each, with proceeds going to The Pittsburgh Penguins Foundation to support youth activities, including youth hockey.

Also, the Penguins will distribute white rally towels to every fan during playoff games this spring.

Fans can go big

Fans unable to land tickets for playoff games still will be encouraged to descend upon the area around Consol Energy Center.

The popular 16x9 high definition screen, which is presented by Trib Total Media, will be returning for playoff games.

The screen will be set up in the Civic Arena south parking lot along Centre Avenue, which is located directly across the street from Consol Energy Center.

Fans watching the game outside are reminded that alcohol and grills are not permitted.

Time change

Game 4 between the Penguins and Lightning in Tampa, originally scheduled for 7:30 p.m. April 20, has been changed to a 7 p.m. start.

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