If things had gone according to plan conceived in between the NHL schedule makers, the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Florida Panthers (tonight's opponent), there would have been a total of nine games played between the two clubs between the preseason and the regular season.

For those who have been chaffing for a rivalry, a real rivalry between the Lightning and the Panthers that took advantage of both teams playing well at the same time, the 2012-2013 NHL season should have given both clubs the chance to kindle that flame back into a fire.

So, with a tip of the cap and an extension of my middle finger, I salute the 2012 NHL lockout and the belligerence of all involved in the matter. Thank you for preventing the one thing the NHL thinks is the only legit marketing aspect of the game: a division rivalry.

Of course, things could still happen. The Lightning and the Panthers dance five times this season. Right now, the Panthers could be looked at as experiencing a sophomore slump under head coach Kevin Dineen; a four game losing streak after an opening night win and still tasting the humiliation of a 7-1 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday night... Nothing seemed to go right in that game and... and... That sounds familiar... Too familiar, in fact.