The big-picture view shows Tampa Bay starting a five-game homestand today.

In a shortened season, however, there is no time to take that sort of a big-picture view.

Sure, in looking at the five games, starting with Ottawa tonight, it's easy to see this season-long stretch on home ice as a golden opportunity. Added to their two wins in the opening three games, a strong homestand could go a long way toward setting up the Lightning for success, particularly with Philadelphia, Florida, Winnipeg and the New York Rangers also coming to town during a nine-day span.

"We took the second half of that back-to-back (Tuesday in Carolina), and it was huge," captain Vinny Lecavalier said. "Now we've got to take advantage of these five games here, some pretty tough teams, but let's take advantage of this home stretch, for sure."

For a team with a 50-25-7 home record under coach Guy Boucher, five consecutive games at home would seem to be an advantage. But Tampa Bay would rather put on blinders and zero in on the first foe.

"We always have success at home," right wing Teddy Purcell said. "We always like playing here. For whatever reason, it's easy to get jacked up in front of our fans. But a short season, you don't want to look too far ahead. You don't want to get too excited, because every game is so important.

"We know we have a five-game homestand that we have to take advantage of, but our focus is on Ottawa right now.''

At various times during the season, Boucher likes to break down the schedule into five-game segments — to take bigger elements and make them seem smaller. That's not the case now, however, because of the uniqueness of playing a 48-game schedule instead of a full 82-game season.