TAMPA, FLA. -- As far as Tampa coach John Tortorella is concerned, the Senators and Lightning haven't yet reached the stage where you can call tonight's game at the St. Petes Times Forum the renewal of a rivalry.
The last time the Senators saw Tortorella was at the conclusion of their five-game playoff victory in the first round last spring at Scotiabank Place. But the coach doesn't expect any carry over from that short series.
"Everybody wants us to have a rivalry with (the Florida Panthers), but I think you need to play a team two or three times in a long playoff round to really start developing the type of rivalry that the league really wants," said Tortorella yesterday.
"I don't think it can happen in the regular season with the schedule. You guys live it with that Ottawa-Toronto series and I know proximity has a lot to do with it too. But you need to be fighting in the playoffs two or three years and then I really think a rivalry starts coming.
"We've had some good rivalries with Philly because we've had some good series against them and a lot of B.S. has gone on. Last year's playoffs? No, I don't think it brings anything into it.
"Ottawa is trying to find its way and has found its stride. We're trying to find our way and it's two teams trying to find their way. We know they are playing better and we certainly respect them."
The start to the season has been a roller coaster ride for the Bolts. But one player who Tortorella has been pleased with is winger Martin St. Louis.
The 2004 Hart Trophy winner struggled last season, but leads the club in scoring with 14 goals and 14 assists in 23 games.
"All the expectations put him on last year ... it just doesn't get to him. I just think with (St. Louis) he keeps his head clear," said Tortorella.
"(St. Louis) told me when I was on him early in the year about one thing or another that, 'It goes in one ear and out the other.' If that's what it has to be, that's okay.
"He's played very well. It's funny, but that's what (St. Louis) has to do. He self-analyzes so much, that he's got to keep his head clear. He's been a force right from the first game. The difference from right now to where it was early in the year, is he's finishing. He's played very well. He came in tremendous shape and it's paid off."
An area the Lightning has to improve on is penalty killing.
The club is ranked 30th in the NHL -- including 27th at home.
Asked to comment on it, Tortorella said: "It sucks."