TAMPA, Fla. - This trip was supposed to be no picnic for the Avalanche, but just like they have all year long, the Avs proved the doubters were spouting fake news as they gathered on a Florida lawn Friday. Piles of pork and a bevy of beef were devoured by hungry hockey players following a brief but spirited practice at the Ice Sports Forum here on the outskirts of this city.
There's always something about this trip that brings out the joie de vivre in the Avalanche. It's Florida, after all, in winter, a brief but enjoyable respite from the cold and snow of home. But after today, fun time will be over. Saturday night at Amalie Arena, it's back to work for an Avalanche team that will play the No. 1 team in the league, the Tampa Bay Lightning, in what could be a Stanley Cup Final preview.
A buffet of slap shots, body checks and shaved ice await the Avs in what is a rematch of a thrilling - yes, thrilling is the accurate word - of a 1-0 game last month, won by Tampa Bay at the Pepsi Center.