Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Q & A with Devils Daily

I did a Q & A session with Jeremy at Devils Daily to preview tonight's game. Head over there and check it out. Run some Bolt smack on those Jersey boys!

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All Hallows Eve Craziness

It's no secret that when a team is in a slump, the coach will try to find ways to jar them out of it. Tortorella's rant in the press after Monday's game dressing down everyone but Holmqvist was certainly an example of that. Had that been all that transpired after that game, I think we would have just chalked it up to Torts being Torts. But now it gets weird.

After reading the local beat writers, I came across this little morsel (Times, Trib). Apparently, after a team meeting where everyone was able to speak their mind, the team dressed at MSG and boarded a bus to head to a practice session at Chelsea Piers. Once the bus arrived at its destination, it continued on past Chelsea Piers and back to MSG. The team disembarked, changed into their street clothes and headed back to their hotel in Jersey. No practice, no explanation. What's that about? Was Tortorella sending some sort of message? Or as one of our readers Eric asked," is he crazy or a genius?" Maybe he took too much of that Xanex they were talking about over at SESO.

Some are speculating that he has lost control of the team. That the boys have tuned him out, and that this is the beginning of the end for Tortorella as head coach in Tampa. That when (if) the new ownership comes in, he is on his way out. I'm not going to read that much into it, that is , until I see what transpires on the ice tonight in Jersey. Then I will be able to decide just whether or not Torts is a mad man or a man with a plan! Happy Halloween Everyone!!!!!!

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Monday, October 29, 2007

Game Recap: TB 1 - NYR 3

The road woes continued for the Bolts as they left Madison Square Garden with their 4th consecutive road loss of the season. The defeat leaves the Lightning winless on the road so far this season.

The lone Lightning goal came at 6:28 of the second on a Vinny Lecavalier penalty shot. The penalty shot was awarded as Lecavalier was hooked by New York's Marek Malik as Vinny had broken free on his way to the net. That goal sent the Bolts into intermission tied at one goal a piece. It could have been much worse had it not been for the stellar goaltending of Johan Holmqvist and the good graces of the goal posts. Just moments before Vinny's breakaway, Holmqvist stopped a Jaromir Jagr breakaway, and at least 3 shots rang off the posts. Holmer saw 13 shots in the 2nd period alone, and in total stopped 32 of 35 shots.

What eventually cost the Bolts was sloppy play that led to mistakes and penalties. The Rangers scored 2 goals in the third, both on the power play. The Bolts were in the box a total of 7 times, including one penalty for too many men on the ice.

"We were undisciplined," Tortorella said of the third period, "but up until then, we had one player play, our (expletive) goalie. Our goalie gives us a chance after two periods, and we can't put 20 minutes of disciplined hard hockey together, so we're not even (expletive) close tonight, not even close, so we don't deserve anything.

"We spent more time (expletive) looking at referees for (expletive) calls, p------ and moaning about instead of playing, so we don't deserve (expletive-expletive) tonight."

Of note, Dan Boyle saw his first action of the year after surgery to repair wrist tendons that were cut in a freak skate accident. He played sparingly, taking one slapshot that sailed wide of the net.

"Physically, it was just no contest tonight," said Lightning defenseman Dan Boyle, who returned from a freak left wrist injury that kept him out of the first nine games. "They were much hungrier on the puck."

The Lightning will now have to regroup as they prepare to face New Jersey Halloween night in the second game of their three game New York swing.

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Game Recap: TB 3 - BUF 4 (OT)

(AP) -- The Buffalo Sabres got the bounce they needed.

Thomas Vanek scored late in overtime and the Sabres rallied for a 4-3 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday night.

During a 2-on-1, Vanek tried to pass the puck from along the right-wing boards to teammate Nathan Paetsch in the slot, but the puck deflected off Tampa Bay defenseman Shane O'Brien into the net with 40.5 seconds left.

"I was just trying to get down and stop the pass from going across and I stopped it, but it went in," O'Brien said,

Vincent Lecavalier gave the Lightning a 3-2 lead on a wrist shot from the right circle during a 5-on-3 power play at 6:14 of the third. The Sabres pulled even at 3 when Paetsch stopped a personal 22-game goal drought, scoring the low left-circle with 6:47 remaining in the period.

We poured on as much as we could," Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff said. "With three games in four nights, and the back-to-back games, I thought that our guys gave it everything they had and they were rewarded for how hard they worked."

Lecavalier had a potential winning goal disallowed with 2:56 left in third when the officials ruled Tampa Bay right wing Martin St. Louis interferred with Sabres goalie Ryan Miller.

"The goal should be disallowed, there's no question," Tampa Bay coach John Tortorella said. "The goalie was not able to do his job with Marty being there. It's the right call."

Maxim Afinogenov and Paul Gaustad had the other Buffalo goals.

Vinny Prospal and Michel Ouellet also scored for the Lightning. The loss was Tampa Bay's first at home in six games this season.

Prospal and Ouellet scored 1 minute, 20 seconds apart early in the second to put Tampa Bay ahead 2-0. Prospal has nine goals in nine games this season.

Less than two minutes after Miller made a strong save on Prospal's in-close shot, Afinogenov got the Sabres within 2-1 at 9:30 of the second. Gaustad tied it at 2 on a power-play goal with 5:32 left in the period.

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Friday, October 26, 2007

Smaby Reassigned

Matt Smaby has been sent down to Norfolk. Janik and Lundin are still here. It looks like the move was done to make room for Boyle, who it appears, will be coming back for Saturday's game against Buffalo.

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Game Recap: TB 5 - PHI 2

(AP) The Tampa Bay Lightning wanted to develop a home-ice advantage. So far this season they have.

Brad Richards had two goals and Vinny Prospal scored his eighth goal of the season to lead the Lightning past the Philadelphia Flyers 5-2 on Thursday night, tying a franchise record by starting out 5-0 at home.

"It should be that way," Richards said. "Last year we struggled at home for some reason, but it should be this way. Our team is built to play that uptempo style, and we've done that this year. We're taking care of business here."

Jason Ward and Michel Ouellet also scored for the Lightning, who went 22-18-1 at home last season.

"Kept things going on a good roll here on home ice, which is very important I think," Richards said. "We want to establish ourselves in this building."

Home ice proved friendly to the Bolts again. They seem like 2 different teams home and away. Some observations from last night:

Holmqvist looked real good. The 2 goals given up were nothing big. One a miscue with his defense behind the net, the other a slapper from the right circle. Other than that, he made some big saves, and kept the Bolts in it.

Richards looks like he is back on track this season. Playing with Ward seems to fit him well. He had 2 goals, one an empty netter, and the helper on Prospal's goal. That being Prospal's 8th of the season. The guy prepared like a pro in the offseason, and it is showing.

Lecavalier had his second fight in as many games, this time just a 5 for fighting, no instigator or game misconducts. This one seemed to be the spark early in the game that got the Bolts going. To me, Vinny should get the captain "C". This is clearly his team. I have all the respect in the world for Taylor, but it is obvious who the leader of the Bolts is.

This year's award for best offseason pickup goes to Chris Gratton. He plays with fire in his gut every night. He has come a long way from that kid we drafted back in the day. Great to see we continue to own Philly!

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Thursday, October 25, 2007

Game Recap: TB 3 - WSH 5

(AP) -- With Alex Ovechkin around, the Washington Capitals figured it couldn't be too long before their scoring problems would fade away.

For one night, at least, all it took was a little lineup juggling.

Moved back up to Ovechkin's line Wednesday night, captain Chris Clark scored his first two goals, and Washington produced its biggest output of offense all season in a 5-3 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning.

"We understand each other," said Ovechkin, who contributed two assists and an empty-net goal with 4 seconds left. "We played like we played the last two years: He scored and I scored."

Clark's first points of the season -- one goal came off a pass from Ovechkin, the other came when a rebound bounced off his body -- helped the Capitals end a four-game losing streak.

"I got a couple of those goose eggs off my board," Clark said, "but to come out with a win was huge."

Washington was averaging only two goals, but had more success against Tampa Bay goalie Marc Denis, making his first start this season. The Lightning fell to 0-3 on the road for the first time since 2000.

"It's too early to say that it's a struggle," Denis said. "Last year, we were one of the best road teams in the whole league."

The Capitals also entered the day as one of only two clubs in the NHL that had yet to score more than three goals in a game, a drought that extended 16 games to a 7-1 victory over Tampa Bay on March 18 last season.

So Washington coach Glen Hanlon shifted around his forward lines, in part because he was able to use wing Alexander Semin, who came off injured reserve after missing six of seven games with an ankle injury.

Hanlon also changed right wing Clark from a checking line to the top line, joining left wing Ovechkin and center Viktor Kozlov. It didn't take long for that to work out.

Just 6:33 into the game, Ovechkin corralled a poor clear attempt by Shane O'Brien and made a backhand pass to Clark, who quickly flipped a shot under the crossbar.

Clark played with Ovechkin often the previous two seasons and scored a career-high 30 goals in 2006-07.

"He's our leader. He's a great guy in the locker room, an unbelievable player on the ice," Ovechkin said.

After Tampa Bay tied it on Jason Ward's first goal of the season about 16 minutes into the first period, Ovechkin set up David Steckel's first career goal a little more than 4 1/2 minutes into the second period to make it 2-1.

Kozlov passed to Ovechkin, who threaded the puck past three Lightning players and over to Steckel on the right side. After the puck went in, Ovechkin skated over to meet the rookie behind the net with a pat on the helmet and a yell of, "Yeah, baby!"

"It's a relief," Steckel said. "I started thinking about it a little too much."

The Lightning evened things again 3 minutes later with a short-handed goal. A mere 13 seconds into a Washington power play, Semin turned the puck over, and Tampa Bay rushed the other way, with Ward and Brad Richards setting up Paul Ranger.

That 2-2 score didn't last, though, because Washington scored twice in 61 seconds. First, Brooks Laich put the Capitals back in front with 2:19 left in the second period. Then, Clark was in the right spot at the right time to make it 4-2 with what Hanlon called a "dirty goal" and Denis termed "the flukiest goal of the night."

"It was a lucky bounce," Clark acknowledged, saying the puck went off his chest. "I was trying to weasel my way to the front of the net to make something happen."

Tampa Bay had to try for a comeback over the final 14 1/2 minutes without center Vincent Lecavalier, who fought with Shaone Morrisonn and was whistled for 2 minutes for slashing, 2 minutes for instigating, 5 minutes for fighting, plus a 10-minute game misconduct.

"Huge help," Hanlon said.

Lightning coach John Tortorella's take?

"Vinny's fight sparked us," Tortorella said.

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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Lightning Updates

Here's some between game info:

Ryan Craig is skating with the team, but is not taking part in any hitting. He is still recovering from a herniated disc in his lower back. Dan Boyle looks to be only days away from returning. He has been taking part in full practices, including passing and wrist shots. Look for him to return to the lineup probably in the next week or so.

The Michel Ouellet experiment seems to be going nowhere. He is now practicing on a line with Gratton and Darche, while Ward has moved up to play with Richards and Hlavac. I liked the way Ward played on the Richards line at the end of last season, and expect he will be able to produce.

After 2 shaky games in net, Holmer came back with a solid effort against Atlanta. He currently is 4-1 and has a .894 sv% and 2.62 GAA. The save percentage is a bit deceiving due to the fact that Holmer isn't seeing very many shots. He has the GAA under 3, and that's a very good thing!

The Bolts head to Washington to take on the Caps Wednesday, then are back home Thursday to face the red hot Flyers.

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Saturday, October 20, 2007

Game Recap: TB 6 - ATL 2

Vinny Prospal had 2 goals, and what seemed like everyone else had one too, as the Bolts beat the Thrash silly Saturday night. Prospal opened the scoring in the first, and Chris Gratton followed. The Bolts took a 2-1 lead into the second, The Thrash was lucky to only trail 2-1 after the first, as they were outshot 17-2.

The second was more of the same for the Bolys. Marty St. Louis and Mathieu Darsche scored just 39 seconds apart. That flurry followed a Vinny Lecavalier breakaway goal to open the second period scoring. The Lightning took a 5-1 lead into the locker room after two periods.

Instead of lying back and playing not to lose, the Bolts continued to forecheck, and pressure Atlanta. Prospal scored his seventh goal of the season during a power play in the third, and the Bolts finished the contest with an impressive 6-2 win. The Bolts are now 4-2 on the season and 3-1 in the division.

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Friday, October 19, 2007

Game Recap: TB 1 - BOS 4

(AP) -- The Boston Bruins gave Claude Julien a victory in his Boston debut. Maybe they can give him one he'll be proud of next time.

"It wasn't a pretty win," Julien said after the Bruins beat Tampa Bay 4-1 in their home opener on Thursday night. "Certainly not to the expectations that we want."

Marco Sturm scored two goals and Tim Thomas made 35 saves for Boston, which has won four of five since opening the season with a loss. Mark Stuart scored his first career goal, and Peter Schaefer also scored for Boston.

Johan Holmqvist stopped 19 shots for Tampa Bay, and Brad Richards scored the Lightning's only goal. The line of Martin St. Louis, Vincent Lecavalier and Vaclav Prospal, which had 17 points in the last four games, did not score Thursday night.

Richards looked good in this game, playing with some fire in his gut. I can't say this loss was due to a lack of effort. Thomas just stole this one for Boston. The Bolts out shot Boston 36 to 24, but couldn't get it past the Boston netminder. I am beginning to get a bit concerned about Holmer. This is the second game in a row he's give up 4 goals. Not that he had much of a chance on a couple of them, one was a deflection, one a screened shot, but still I'm a bit nervous. I hope Torts gives him a chance to bounce back Saturday night at home, and doesn't start playing musical goalies again.

Click Here to Watch Highlights

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Thursday, October 18, 2007

Vinny Gives $3 Mil to Cancer Center

This shows just how much of a stand up guy Vinny is. It's great to have athletes like him in our community.

From TSN:

Vincent Lecavalier wanted to give back to the community that welcomed him nearly 10 years ago.

That's a big reason why the Tampa Bay Lightning star centre is committing US$3 million through his charity foundation to a new children's hospital in St. Petersburg that's currently under construction.

''Starting my 10th year in the NHL here in Tampa, the community has been so good to me and I wanted to do something to give back,'' Lecavalier told The Canadian Press after the announcement Tuesday.

Lecavalier hosts the families of children with cancer in his VIP suite at several Lightning home games each season.

''I got to meet a lot of the kids,'' said Lecavalier. ''When you meet these kids and you see what they go through, the battles they go through, I wanted to help them.''

The Vincent Lecavalier Pediatric Cancer and Blood Disorders Center will occupy half of the seventh floor in the new All Children's Hospital.

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Sunday, October 14, 2007

Game Recap: TB 4 - FLA 6

(AP) -- Olli Jokinen's record-tying goal provided the lift Florida needed.

Jokinen had a goal and two assists to tie Scott Mellanby for Florida's career scoring lead in the Panthers' 6-4 victory over Tampa Bay on Saturday night.

"Before the season, I knew the stats," said Jokinen, who has 156 goals and 198 assists for 354 points in seven season with Florida. "But the main thing is we got two points."

Nathan Horton, Ruslan Salei, Stephen Weiss, Richard Zednik and Jozef Stumpel also scored for the Panthers, who handed Tampa Bay its first loss of the season.

Florida built a 5-1 lead in the third period, but Tampa Bay rallied to close to 5-4 with 8:44 left. Jokinen answered with a goal on a 5-on-3 power play to seal the victory.

"It's a huge goal, put us back up by two," said Horton. "He's a special player and we're lucky to have him here."

Vaclav Prospal had two third-period goals for Tampa Bay, which started the day as one of two unbeaten teams in the league along with Minnesota. Andre Roy and Jan Hlavac had the other Lightning goals.

Tomas Vokoun made 40 saves for the Panthers.

"All the credit goes to Vokoun," Jokinen said. "He made some huge saves there."

Tampa Bay goalie Johan Holmqvist was pulled after Zednik's goal made it 4-0 at 2:34 of the second period. Holmqvist gave up four goals on 15 shots.

Florida is now 8-1 against Tampa Bay at the BankAtlantic Center since the start of the 2005-06 season.

"We don t play as well as we should (there), that's for sure," said Tampa Bay center Vincent Lecavalier, who had two assists. "But we have to stop thinking that when we come here we don't play well. That's not the way we should approach the game."

Stumpel gave Florida a four-goal cushion at 1:26 of the third on a 5-on-3 power play when he redirected Jokinen's wrist shot from the point.

Prospal started Tampa's rally. He made it 5-2 at 5:51 with a power-play goal when he completed a beautiful passing sequence by tapping in Vincent Lecavalier's cross-ice pass.

"I thought we had them when it was 5-4," said Lightning coach John Tortorella. "We had the opportunity to come back and we took another penalty. We need to get our discipline down to win in this league."

The Lightning then scored twice in 44 seconds to make it a one-goal game. Prospal scored on a short wrist shot before Hlavac one-timed Brad Richards' pass from behind the net at 8:44.

Florida grabbed a 2-0 lead in the first five minutes of the game on goals by Horton and Salei, and took a 3-0 lead into the first intermission after Weiss scored at 18:57.

"We learned a lesson again tonight," Jokinen said. "We can't relax against a good team, even if we have a four- or five-goal lead." ^Notes: Tampa Bay D Andreas Karlsson sat out his fourth consecutive game because of an abdominal injury. ... Tampa Bay D Paul Ranger had an assist for the fourth time in four games. ... In support of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Panthers coaches and broadcasters wore pink ties. ... Tampa Bay s best start came during the Stanley Cup season of 2003-04 when the Lightning began 6-0.

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Thursday, October 11, 2007

Game Recap: TB 2 - FLA 1

In his first meeting with his former team, Chris Gratton proved to be too much to handle , scoring both Lightning goals in leading the Bolts to a 2-1 victory over the visiting Panthers. The win was the Lightning's third in a row, and gave the Bolts a 3-0 start for the first time since their Stanley Cup winning season in '03-'04. Johan Holmqvist started in goal for the third straight game and recorded 30 saves on 31 shots. The MVP line was held scoreless for the first time this season.

"When the big line isn't going, we found a way," Tortorella said. "I thought Grats' line was probably our best line."

"It's always tough to play your former teammates," Gratton said. "It's nice to chip in against any team in the league. Our line has got to help out with the offense a little bit. We got a couple lucky breaks, but I thought it was a solid game by both teams."

It was nice to see contributions from a line other than the top. Also strong was the second line of Ouellet, Richards and Hlavac, Although they didn't record a point, they battled tough in the corners, and mounted a steady forecheck that produced a number of scoring opportunities. The defense also seems to be coming together. Mike Sullivan's crew was credited with 13 blocked shots, and had a number of key takeaways in the defensive zone.

In all, another solid performance by the Bolts who now hit the road for the next 2 games, starting with the backside of a home and home with Florida.

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Sunday, October 7, 2007

Game Recap: TB 5 - ATL 2

(AP) Prospal and Brad Richards had two goals each to lead the Lightning to a 5-2 victory over the Atlanta Thrashers on Saturday night.

Prospal scored his second of goal of the game, and third this season, when he redirected Martin St. Louis' shot to give Tampa Bay a 2-1 lead during a power play with 5:22 left in the second period.

"I expect a huge year out of Vinny Prospal," Tortorella said. "You can just sense it."

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Highlights: ATL 2, TB 5
Prospal struggled last season, scoring just 14 goals in 82 games.

"I just didn't want to go through what I went through last year," Prospal said. "Everybody struggles, but it's always easier when you get to the point in the season when you have something to look back to. Last year, from the beginning, I didn't really have anything to look back to. For the team, for me personally, it's always great when we get off to a good start like this."

Richards scored a short-handed goal later in the second and added a power-play goal in the third.

Vincent Lecavalier also scored for Tampa Bay, which has opened the season 2-0 for just the third team in team history. Johan Holmqvist made 13 saves.

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Friday, October 5, 2007

Game Recap: TB 3 - NJ 1

(AP) Vincent Lecavalier scored twice, including a tiebreaking goal with 3:52 left in the third, spoiling Sutter's first game as Devils coach and leading the Tampa Bay Lightning to a 3-1 win on Thursday night.

"We played pretty well the last 17 minutes of the first and played a really good second period," Sutter said. "We had lots of chances. I thought we stood around too much in the third. We weren't assertive enough."

New Jersey is opening the season with a nine-game road trip, which will allow construction of the Devils new arena in Newark to be completed for the home opener Oct. 27 against Ottawa.

Vinny Prospal set up Lecavalier's second goal to make it 2-1 from the right circle with a backhand pass through the slot.


"He's the best player in the league," Devils goalie Martin Brodeur said of Lecavalier. "He got a couple of quality chances and beared down on it."

Prospal added an empty-net goal with 58 seconds left.

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Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Holmer to Start vs. New Jersey

Holmqvist has gotten the nod against Jersey over Denis. Not surprising after the way things went in the team's final preseason game against Dallas. Also, Mathieu Darche will replace Andreas Karlsson for opening night. Karlsson is still suffering from an abdominal strain, and not expected to be ready for Thursday. Ryan Craig skated for about 10 minutes yesterday, but is still not ready for action, still suffering from a herniated disc.

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