Tampa Bay Lightning forward Vinny Prospal will share a daily diary while the team is in Europe, including his native Czech Republic. The team will play a season-opening series in Prague against the New York Rangers on Saturday and Sunday.
We woke up in Bratislava Slovakia and went to bed in Prague Czech Republic, and I have to tell you, I am glad we are in Prague and done traveling for a while. As nice as we have it (and we are pretty spoiled when it comes to travel), we need to get settled down so we can start preparing for the real thing this weekend. We have flown five times in seven days and played three games in three countries and practiced in a fourth during that time.
Tuesday's result was a good one, but we had to work for it, beating HC Slovan in Bratislava, 3-2 in a shootout. We scored once in the first period, and to be honest, I thought we could have been up 3 or 4 to 0. We got in penalty trouble in the second period and ended up behind 2-1, before the other Vinny Lecavalier scored on a power play to get us tied. After a fast-paced overtime where we did everything but score, things went to a shootout. Jussi Jokinen and the other Vinny got us a couple in the shootout while Mike Smith (who played well) stopped two of the three shots he faced. We played before a packed arena of about 8,000, where we heard whistles and drums and then saw tennis balls thrown on the ice when the home team scored. Crazy. But those fans do love their hockey.
Now that we are back to Prague, we get an off day on today - not sure what I am going to do yet - before buckling down on Thursday and Friday to get focused on the games against the Rangers. Some of us talked about playing golf tomorrow, but the weather outlook isn't so good, so I am not sure what we will be doing. I may just go to my home for a bit. One thing I can tell you for sure, I will be sleeping in. I need to get some rest.
It should be fun around here the next few days as our fans from Tampa (I hear about 150 of them made the trip) come to town and the whole city gets ready for the weekend. I have about 50 friends and family coming to the games, so I know all of the Czech Republic is getting excited for them.
Depending on our day today, I may wait until Thursday to check back. Hope everything is well for everyone back in Tampa.