Monday, November 30, 2009

Game 25: Colorado in Tampa Preview

It's Swedish Night! Featuring: Swedish meatballs! and chips, and hot dogs and Pepsi?!? The last 3 are definitely not Swedish...

Where is the pickled herring? the
vörtlimpa (Christmas rye bread)? the gravad lax (lox)? or my favorite: the Glögg? That last one not only sounds cool, it's the nordic term for mulled wine and I would recommend it as your beverage of choice while you watch tonights game.

Enemy blog: Check out Jibblescribbits whose mother considers him as "handsome" or Anyone but Detroit whose mother may or may not consider him as "handsome".

The Avalanche were awesome coming out of the gate surprising everyone, largely due to Craig Anderson's oustanding play. They have since slowed down a little, but are still in 4th place in the West, only 2 points back from the NW division leader. In the beginning of the season, Matt Duchene's name was being thrown around a lot for a possible rookie of the year...yeah, now, not so much but he does show flashes of great skill, but how about that Ryan O'Reilly kid?

Craig Anderson has been 3-6-3 in his last 12 starts. Like the Lightning's loss to Dallas, the Avalanche lost on Saturday in a shootout to Minnesota. What hurts more for them is that also lost David Jones for the season with a torn ACL. Milan Hejduk and TJ Galiardi did not play due to injury.

Line-up Notes:
  • Our big Swede, Mattias Ohlund is still out
Game time: 7:30pm ET on SUN.

Note: I am a bit of a foodie, and have a thing for local European I am a little dismayed that Swedish night only has Swedish meatballs.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Vote for The Hockey Bay

So the NHL Arena is running a blog-off contest for all the NHL Teams. Yours truly has been nominated as one of the Tampa Bay Lightning bloggers. It says you have to pick your favorite 4, but really you can just pick 1 and hit submit...

but I think Rawcharge are cool people too, so feel free to give them some love too.

It takes about 5 minutes to register for an account, but maybe you'll be rewarded with good karma or something for voting for me. I don't really know what the purpose of this blog-off is, maybe just being voted best blog? Who knows.

So here is the direct link to click if you'd like to show me some love. If you don't, well thats ok too, since it doesn't affect me how I do on a discussion board contest, since well I rarely visit discussion boards...

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Game 24: Tampa in Dallas Preview

Second weekend in a row for back to back games. The Lightning take on the Dallas stars tonight in Dallas.

Enemy blog: Check out SBN's Defending Big D

Both teams were in action last night, the Lightning won 5-1 over the Rangers, and the Stars lost 5-2 to the Coyotes. Both teams travelled to Dallas for tonights game. Both of our records are pretty close in number, the Lightning at 10-6-7 and the Starts at 11-7-7. There was a lot of 'both teams' in that paragraph, but what I'm trying to get at is that the teams are well matched up, and are in the same position in tiredness. Dallas has the edge with it being a home crowd, though fan turnout for Dallas has been pretty suspect lately.

The Lighting will not make any line-up changes to tonight, which means that Mike Smith will start in goal. Smith and Halpern return to Dallas to face their old team, from which they got traded from for Brad Richards.

The Lightning have had help in scoring from their D men during the last couple of games which is great to see. Stamkos clearly is continuing his campaign to crack the Team Canada roster. Players to watch from Dallas beside Brad Richards is James Neal, Louie Eriksson and their rookie, who is a former Kelowna Rocket, Jamie Benn.

If you can get the FS Southwest feed instead, I would highly recommend watching that one instead of the SUN one. By far, the Dallas guys are the most hilarious announcers in the NHL.

Line-up Notes:
  • Mattias Ohlund is still out with a lower body injury (day to day)
  • Mike Smith is in goal
Game time: 8:30pm ET on SUN.

No recap of the game tonight, because I will be out hitting the town tonight for some instead to make up for it, please enjoy the Lecavalier and Richards NHL promo video

Lightning 5, Rangers 1 - Bolts WIN

When we were up 4-0 going into the 3rd, and I started to get nervous. You'd think being up 4-0 you wouldn't be nervous, but I was. It comes from the repeated times that the Lightning can have a lead, then somehow lose all composure, blow the lead, and end up losing in overtime.

But we didn't.

And Lundqvist got pulled. He gave up 4 goals on 22 shots.

Things just kinda went our way in this game. Great team effort.
  • St. Louis had 3 assists
  • Stamkos got another goal (#16)
  • Kurtis Foster went from no goals up until a week ago, to 3 goals, this may not seam like a lot, but that the same amount that he got for the Wild during the whole 06/07 season

Friday, November 27, 2009

Game 23: Rangers in Tampa Preview

Black Friday. I don't really understand all the hoopla about Black Friday....though I'm the type of person that will buy shoes at the beginning of the season because I don't like to deal with being told they don't have my size during a sale. I don't do large crowds at sales, I don't do boxing day sales, so I don't think I would do Black Friday well. I do like the concept of getting another day off, even if it is without pay.

Enemy blog: I don't respect many Ranger fans, except Scotty Hockey

So for Black Friday, the Lightning will have an open skate for fans from 6-8:45am (who is up at that ungodly hour on a day off, I don't know) which if you are reading this, you have already missed. Followed by an open Lightning morning skate from 10am-1pm and a discounted equipment sale. Terrace level tickets are on sale for $10. Seriously. Click here for all the Black Friday details.

There is also some discount on tickets for a "
Lingerie Football League". I'm afraid to type that into the google machine and see what pops up.

On the hockey front, the Ranjuhs are 13-10-1 and have won the last two in a row. The Lightning on the other hand, well defence at least look like they've lost all sense of direction since Ohlund has been out with injury.

Tonight is the return of John Tortorella for the first time back to face the Lightning as a coach for the Rangers, and really it's not a big deal. He still lives in the Tampa Bay area (at least he did last year when he was an analyst on TSN) and
is part of the community. Yes he did have a bit of a feud with Vinny when he coached the team, but Vinny is a big boy and will get over the drama.

is a big deal is that Marian Gaborik is still healthy. And Wade Redden is injured.

Line-up Notes:
  • Mattias Ohlund is still out with a lower body injury (day to day)
  • Mike Smith is in goal
Game time: 7:30pm ET on SUN. Updates to follow.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Niitymaki: "knees and toes, knees and toes..."

pic from @TBLightning

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Leafs 4, Lightning 3 - Bolts LOSE

This game was a bit of a first for the Lightning, it showed a back and forth play between the two teams. Even though we lost, and ended the home streak, from what I watched, I enjoyed the game for the entertainment factor.

The Leafs came out early and scored two goals from Kulemin and Hagman early in the game. The Lightning answered back with a PPG from Meszaros and a even strength goal from Lecavalier in the 1st. Hagman started off the 2nd period with a goal for the Leafs, before Malone evened it up at 7:52 in the 2nd. It wasn't until the end of the 2nd that Stajan got the game winner of the night for the Leafs.

Thoughts on the game:
  • Stamkos had two assists
  • Toronto's Hagman had a fantastic game
  • Malone had a great chance to get a goal in the end, but he was clearly out of gas, and a neat diving poke check from Beauchemin killed the attempt
  • I didn't like Lundin's game, was terrible from what I saw in the 3rd
  • The Lightning lost for the first time in regulation at home this year
Next game for the Lightning is on Friday against the Rangers. Enjoy your Thanksgiving everyone (well Americans at least). Gobble Gobble.

Game 22: Toronto in Tampa Preview

Gobble Gobble, Happy Thanksgiving to all my American readers. Tronna is in town.

Enemy blog: There really are so many. Check out my favorites:
And check out this gem of a post by Archimedies I missed the last time we played the Leafs, analyzing the suits that our boys wear as they walk into the arena. I agree with him/Wrap on Hedman's suit analysis.

I hate when people call the Leafs the Laffs. It just sounds stupid and kinda redneck. I'm not a Leaf fan or anything, though I may know 2 or 3 (or realistically maybe about 10 of them), and of course, I like toss out a few Leaf jokes when they come in to town, but the people who call them the Laffs, they are just terrible and not creative at all.

Plus, I don't hate on the Leafs just because they suck, hell, we sucked more for the last 2 years, and if we don't stop losing games in OT we might be in the same position in a few months. In fact, I may have a soft spot for some of their players: The Monster, Schenn and Stalberg.

So positives for the Leafs? They now have Phil Kessel playing. Unfortunately for the Leafs (and my hockey pool), they can't clone like 30 of him.

The not so positives? They still have Jason Blake et al. on the team.

Vesa Toskala is back on the IR after tweaking his groin, along with John Mitchell (on the IR that is, not involved in the going tweaking) so they can hang out with Mike Komisarek and Mike Van Ryn. They have
recalled Joey Macdonald and Christian Hanson from the Marlies yesterday as replacements. And the Leafs are tied with Carolina in points for the bottom of the East at 15 a piece.

There's some Thanksgiving tailgate party you can go to in Tampa tonight, where for $25 you can have unlimited food, beer, wine and soda! Did I seriously write that? Unlimited beer and wine? Where I live, I think that $25 may cover your parking, and that's not even talking about food and drinks. Back to tailgating: I've never been to a tailgate party, they don't have those here where I live, so I don't really understand what goes on at them, but I would really love to go. Click here for details on the one going on tonight in Tampa.

Line-up Notes:
Game time: 7pm ET SUN and TSN!!

I found this while looking up Lightning/Leaf picture for my preview, and came across this from last year when the Leafs and the Lightning played. It's from the Believe in The Goal Foundation that was founded by Todd Davison (WHL player) who was diagnosed with cancer. He started the foundation to help in the fight to end cancer. Check out some pictures of the Lightning hanging out with12 year old cancer survivor, Mason Sesak who got to hang out with some of the team last year in Toronto. Love this.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

More Swedish Love - Legal Version

Hello. there. Swedish. Stud.

I don't how the magazine came up with the nickname "The Iceman" since I've never heard of anyone calling him anything but Ohlie, but after this photo I don't care. tHB approves of this photo.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Swedish love in video form

So while checking out the Lightning website today, on their front page, they told me that Victor Hedman has a message for me! So clearly, I clicked on it. Click here, seriously, you won't regret it.

Um....Victor Hedman...I think I may love you after this video. The writing is so bad, but you make it work, shifting your weight and your coy smile....

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Lightning 4, Thrashers 3 - Bolts WIN

Classy Thrasher fans. At least you're classier than Anaheim's fans.

Stamkos scored his 15th goal of the season to win this game 2:56 into OT.

Thoughts on the game:
  • No TV broadcast=NHL fails at life
  • The Lightning outshot the Thrashers 40-31
  • The Lightning blew the 3-1 lead
  • Lecavalier hit two posts
Next game is at home against the Leafs on Wedsnesday

Game 21: Tampa in Atlanta Preview

Guh. What a lack of effort yesterday. We lost to the second worst team in the league, who is missing a goalie and E Staal. Let's forget about it.

Enemy blog: Pay your respect to Laura at Wazzupwitchu for some Thrashers love

When the NHL designed schedule, did they say to themselves: "gee, no one will care about this game, so let's just stick it on a Sunday afternoon and not televise it". Well if they wanted people not to care about the game, I think they've achieved what they were looking to do.

So even though this game may not seem to even matter, it does. The Lightning look better in the standings than they have been playing due to the 7 points they've picked up from their OT losses. The loss last night against Carolina was really 4 points because the Hurricanes are in the same division as the Lightning and tonight the Lightning are in the same situation with the Thrashers.

Line-up Notes:
  • Niitymaki is in net
  • Mattias Ohlund is out with a lower body injury
  • Mike Lundin 'should play' according to Tocchet
Game time: 5pm ET, no tv feed, but you can listen to it on 970 WLFA if you have nothing to do on a Sunday afternoon.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Game 20: Tampa in Carolina Preview

After that win over the Leafs, the Hurricanes are no longer the worst team in the league, don't worry they still suck

Enemy blog: The Life and Times of a Caniac

Nice of the folks at the Lightning website to use a photo of a player (E Stall) that is not even playing. Half of the Canes are out with injury: Eric Staal, Cam Ward, Michael Leighton, Scott Walker, Joni Pitkanen and Michael Ryan.

The Lightning are now 4-0-2, and are tied with the Islanders for the most pity points awarded: 7 FYI.

Line-up Notes:
Game time: 7pm ET on SUN

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Game 19: Tampa in Anaheim

I cannot love the Ducks, in fact I think I may hate them. The hate I feel for them feels like it has gotten stronger over the years. It's something about the players on the Ducks that I just don't like. Ryan Getzlaf makes me want to kick kittens.

Enemy Blog: Check out Anaheim Calling, because although I may hate the Ducks, Arthur and Daniel are actually nice guys.

And because I don't like the Ducks, it makes me pleased to see them at the bottom of the Pacific division. The Ducks have lost 10 out of the last 13 games which has put them at 6-10-3. During their roadtrip out east, which they just got back from, their record was 0-3-1, and that has dropped them back to the bottom of the West.

With rumors swirling last week that Randy Carlisle's coaching job was on the line, the GM came forward and squashed those rumors. So, if it's not the coach being fired, will we see some players traded soon? Perhaps. The Ducks' defense haven't looked as good since Pronger was traded last year and although they have scoring from Getzlaf and Perry, the need more scoring from their other players.

I'm going to enjoy this fabulous feeling of the Ducks sucking while I can.

The Lightning on the other hand 4-0-1 in their last 5 games. Last game in Phoenix, the Lightning had goals from all the players that really had to deliver: Lecavalier, Tanguay and St. Louis. Smitty also had a solid game in net, which has earned him the start tonight against Anaheim. Does this make sense? Winning one game gets you the start in the next one even though Niity has played so well in a string of games before? Well it does when Tocchet is your coach, who may or may not want Smith to succeed and Niity to fail (which is completely based on no fact whatsoever). But neverless, it's a good reward for Smith after playing a good game.

Now all this has sounded like the Lightning are perfect, um not so much. Cristodero raises a great point, that the boys have been outshot in eight straight games, and in 13 of its past 14. Which really does say that the goaltending by primarily Niitymaki, and that last game from Smith has really bailed them out.

Tocchet rattles on about having the players going hard to the net, which is good advice for the players that can do it, though I don't agree about his view that he doesn't want perimeter players. Some players are perimeter players, who, yes, need to get pucks on net, but I think you need to play your strengths by shooting and if the initial shot doesn't go in, well then there need to be players who are at the net to put in the rebound.

Line-up Notes:
  • Mike Smith in net
  • Mattias Ohlund is expected to play, but spent the Wednesday in a walking boot
Game time: 10:00pm ET on, um nothing locally, but it is broadcasted on Prime for Anaheim fans.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Lightning 4, Coyotes 1 - Bolts WIN

Vinny covers his face thinking something bad may have happened, but Marty answers back: "High Five man?"

Mike Smith got the start in net tonight. Earlier today I was confused as to why you would give Smith the start even though it was Niitymaki who had gotten the Lightning points in games that they had no business being in. But we won, so I can't complain, but I am curious as to why, especially since our next game is not until Thursday night so Niity would have had plenty of rest...oh, but recap, that's why you're here:

The Lightning won.
And they won in regulation.

Malone looks like someone just told him unicorns exist, jebus he look happy.

Here are some thoughts on the game:
  • Mike Smith make 30 saves, some of those were big saves on Petr Prucha
  • The Coyotes have less fans that we do
  • Lecavalier, Tanguay and St. Louis all got goals. Vinny got two of them (though the second one was off of Hanzal's stick)
  • Smith stacked the pads to stop Shane Doan's shot
  • Hockey 101 tells you what a glove save is (at around the 2 min left in the 2nd)
  • "The announced crowd was 9,503, ending a three-game streak of five-figure attendance", but if you saw the stands, you'd know that they were no where near 9500....

Game 18: Tampa in Phoenix Preview

"After the longest scheduled flight of the 2009-10 season, the Lightning arrive in Phoenix more than four hours after leaving Tampa"-@TBLightning

Oh cry me a river. A 4 hour flight and whoever is writing for the Lightning twitter account is sounding like they have it bad with travel. They do not.

Enemy Blog: Coyotes blogs? They do actually exist. Check out Hipchecks
for your fix of the desert dogs.

This is the first of two meetings between the Lightning and the Coyotes, and is the 1st of a 4 game roadtrip The roadtrip consists of the Coyotes tonight, the Ducks on Thursday and a back to back game starting on Saturday against Carolina followed by the Thrashers on Sunday.

The Coyotes are playing better than people expected this year. People think that just because financially you suck and will be sold soon have been sold, well your season probably sucks too. Not so, the Coyotes are 11-8-0.

The official Lightning website game preview says that the big story is: "
The Lightning have surged into the Eastern Conference playoff picture by picking up at least one point in nine of their last 10 games."
Which is not quite the way I look at it. In fact if the playoffs started today, because we only got 1 point last night, we are NOT in the picture. Points from OT losses are pity points, not exactly something you want to get excited about in November. That is not called surging.

The Lightning hope to improve their road record, which already looked better on the last trip out, going 2-1-1. They will meet former Bolt Radim Vrbata tonight, who has 5 goals and 4 assists so far this season. He got the game winner against Dallas on Saturday night.

Line-up Notes
Game time: 9:00pm ET where. That's because nobody cares about the Lightning/Coyotes games enough to even have a feed. Fantastic.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Lightning 1, Kings 2 - Bolt LOSE

The Tampa Bay Lightning lost again in a shootout. Our record of shootouts is just not very good. That shootout win over the Wild the other day, is now written off to be a lucky win. But did this game really have to go to a shootout?

Some thoughts:
  • Niitymaki robbed Kopitar early in the 2nd period
  • Drew Doughty opened up the scoring on a powerplay goal in the 3rd (the puck hit Meszaros' skate)
  • Malone decides to take matters into his own hands and wrap the puck around the net on Quick
  • The SUN guys call Malone's wrap around a patented, it's not. I do agree how they called him "Mr. Clutch"
  • Meszaros finally does something and scores, the Lightning spill off of the bench to the ice to congratulate, but the refs waive it off because of goalie interference. The refs botch this call since Szczechura was pushed into Quick, but no review can be made on this type of call.
  • I start thinking that maybe refs might have had some deal worked out with the Kings owners for the win? Would that be a quick trip to the Palms in Las Vegas after the game?
  • Even with the bad call on the no goal, the Lightning have a chance to win in the shootout....dum dum dum....
  • Kopitar beats Niitymaki 5 hole in the shootout, and Tanguay can't beat Quick as the final shooter (especially when he throws the puck at Quicks pads)
  • Bolts lose
Yes refs sometimes make bad calls, it happens but in the end, the Lightning had a chance to still win the game in the shootout, but didn't. None of our shooters (Lecavalier, Stamkos or Tanguay) were able to score. Maybe Tocchet should spend a little more time on the shootout in practice or the Lightning should try to win in regulation.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Game 17: LA in Tampa Preview

The Kings have surprised a lot of people this year. Kopitar has shocked people this year, and been a dream for fantasy owners who picked him up as he is leading the leading the league with 14 goals and 30 points.

Enemy Blog: Check out The Royal Half for a Kings perspective or Battle of California for RudyKelly's hilarity

The Kings play back to back games and got hammered by the Thrashers last night in Atlanta, losing 7-0. Kovy was back from injury and Pavelec had a great game earning him the shutout.

The Kings have Kopitar and Ryan Smyth leading the scoresheet and goalie Jonathan Quick is in a 4 way tie for second place with 10 wins. But they have lost the last 3 out of 4 games, with the last win coming over Carolina last Wednesday.

I'm sure the Lightning are trying to forget their performance against the Wild, though they sneak away with a shootout win. The Lightning have played better at home (so far) and since the Kings should be tired as this is the 2nd of back to back games for them, the Lightning should have the edge coming into tonight. Niitymaki gets the start tonight, and we'll need another great performance from him. Stamkos has had 10 goals in the last 10 games.

The Lightning are collecting non-perishable food for the
Metropolitan Ministries on the Plaza before tonight's game, strange how this is not up on the official Lightning website.

Line-up Notes:
  • Niitymaki is starting
  • Matt Walker is a game time decision (if not it's Kurtis Foster)
Game time: 7:30pm ET On SUN

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Lightning 4, Wild 3 - Bolts WIN

Didn't catch the game, just got the highlights, but a few thoughts:
  • Ryan Malone scoring with 14.7 seconds left in the game to tie it up, YEAH!!!!
  • Lecavalier scoring in the shootout. About time, non?
  • The Lightning winning in the shootout. This one was long overdue.
  • Lecavalier looked like he played a great game
  • The Lightning looked like they turned the puck over a lot. Need to do better on that.
  • Niitymaki kept the boys in the game
  • Stamkos: 1G, 1A, and a shootout winner
May I say again, that we won in a shootout. About. Freaking. Time.

Game 16: Minnesota in Tampa

The Wild are all sorts of new this year: New coach, new style, and Havlat in for Gaborik. What's not new? They are still mediocre.

Enemy Blog: Yes, Wild bloggers do exist, in fact I found one last week! Pay your respects to Hitting the Post

The Wild are on a 4 game roadtrip in the East, and after a great Remembrance Day ceremony (that's what we call Nov 11th here in Canada) that the Leafs put on, the Wild put the Leafs back in their place winning 5-2.

The Wild have beat us the last 4 times we've met, but this year is different as they have a Todd Richards as their new coach (former assistant coach for the Sharks), so new style which means at least they are no longer as boring to watch as the Devils anymore.

The Wild are looking to Martin Havlat to start scoring. Great read over here at Hockey Wilderness about his lack of scoring, in fact at this rate he's on pace to score six goals this year (factored over 80 games).

The Lightning have had tons of rest, so Hedman is expected to be back in the lineup. Stamkos, even though he has a run-in with the boards, is also expected to play.

Non game thought: It makes me wonder sometimes why reporters ask questions about events that have clearly come and gone. Yesterday I read that Cristodero asked Ohlund if he thought much of playing against Mikko Koivu tonight. If you didn't know, in 2007 Koivu elbowed Ohlund in the head, and Ohlund retaliated with a two-handed slash which broke Koivu's leg. Ohlund got a 4 game suspension for the slah and Koivu was then out for 24 games.

Yes, Wild fans may never forgive Ohlund for that, but the Wild played the Canucks countless times after Koivu came back since they are in the same division. Nothing really has been said of possible hate between Ohlund and Koivu, so I'm pretty sure this is a non issue now, but thanks for asking DC, must have been a slow news day.

On goaltending, even though I keep hearing that Tocchet is supposed to play Smith and Niitymaki in alternation, this clearly has not happened. Niitymaki has been the better goalie right now, so he'll get another start tonight.

Line-up Notes:
  • Niitymaki is the starter in goal
  • Drew Miller was taken on waivers by the Wings
  • Lines should look like this: Ryan Malone-Vinny Lecavalier-Alex Tanguay, Stephane Veilleux-Steven Stamkos-Marty St. Louis, James Wright-Jeff Halpern-Steve Downie, Todd Fedoruk-Zenon Konopka-Ryan Craig

Game time: 7:30pm ET. On SUN

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Lightning call up Paul Szczechura

As per Lightning Strikes, the Lightning have called up C Paul Szczechura, he has has 14 points in 14 games played with the Admirals

Drew Miller claimed by the Red Wings

As per TSN, the Red Wings have claimed Drew Miller off of waivers today.

In 14 games, he has had no points and is a -3. So the Red Wings must be really banged up with injuries huh?

Niitymaki is leading the league...

That is all.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Stamkos ok and Hedman is even more normal

During practice today Stamkos flew into the boards after getting tangled up in Mike Smith's stick. Smith was trying to poke check the puck, and instead got his stick caught in Stamkos' stick. Stamkos is ok, he said it was "nothing serious".

Hedman's baseline tests came back today, even more normal than the test he took during training camp. Hedman, turning into a comedian joked "Maybe I need a couple more hits,". Tocchet expects to play him on Thursday against the Lightning.

Both Lecavalier and St. Louis missed practice today due to a "body maintenance" and "recovery day" today.

Drew Miller was put on waivers to send him down to the AHL, we should know by 12pm tomorrow if he clears.

Monday, November 9, 2009

This and That: GM meetings and trade rumours

The GM meetings will go on Tuesday and Wednesday in Lawton will have to back from his trip from Finland before the start.

Oh, you didn't hear about Finland? Well neither did I. It came up, I'm a little embarrassed to say it how, but in Angelina Lawton's (the GM's wife's) twitter account. So the tweet on Nov 7 was:

Brian in Finland for the weekend to see 4 games in 2 days.Can you imagine going that far just for weekend~ wants to see prospects himself !-@AngelinaLawton

I can only assume, this means he's checking out the Karjala Cup...but which prospect warrants a trip to Finland that he is personally checking out? I hope by 'prospect' they mean prospect and not Forsberg...

Trade Rumours
Now take this with a grain of salt because it is coming from Bruce "Malkin to the Kings" Garrioch:
  • "The Bolts haven't been thrilled with the play of Andrej Meszaros and there's talk GM Brian Lawton is trying to move the 23-year-old blue-liner who has five years left on a deal he signed with the club in September, 2008. Making an average of $4 million, the Bolts will find it difficult to find anybody to take" -The SUN

Elliotte Friedman Tidbits on Malone, Stamkos & Wright

Here is four from his 30 thoughts of the week:

OK, now the rest of the league: great, great line from one of the NHL’s funniest players, Ryan Malone. He watched the Penguins’ Stanley Cup victory with no malice. His wife even asked him if it was hard to watch. He said no, “Because if I was there, I’d probably have turned the puck over and they’d lost.”

18. Steve Stamkos worked with Gary Roberts during the summer. Stamkos said the worst thing Roberts made him do was run with a 75-to-100-pound sled strapped to him. He’d have to do two sets of five sprints.

19. Mike Babcock made a very interesting comment about the possibility of guys like Stamkos – who weren’t invited to the Olympic Orientation Camp – making Team Canada: “Who are they going to bump off the roster?”

27. After his team’s victory in Toronto, Lightning forward James Wright was stretching on the floor of the dressing room using a soft roller underneath his body. Why was he doing it there? “Because I don’t have enough seniority to get massage time,” he laughed. Wright is 19.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Game 15: Tampa in Montreal Preview

I was attempting to write this preview in french this morning, but my attempt at grammer was not happening. Lucky for you, please enjoy the english preview.

Enemy Blog: Check out the Four Habs Fans for your Habs centric perspective

The Lightning are in Montreal to face the Canadiens, which means the Lightning will face 10 times more media than usual (see above, pic from TBLightning twitter). Instead of questions about a possibly trade to Montreal, the questions that Lecavalier will be more along the lines of: "why do you suck these days?" or "how do you feel perhaps not being selected for the Olympics?". Oh please queue the Canadian media haters, but the fact is, there's lots of media and they have questions. Don't worry, the return of Tanguay will also be a topic for their stories.

Both teams last played on Thursday night, Montreal beating Boston in a shootout, and of course the Lightning losing to the Senators in OT. The Lightning are currently 1-1-1 on their 4 game road trip.

Hedman will not play tonight as he has a concussion from the hit from Chris Neil, since we have lots of defenseman, Kurtis Foster will slide in for him. Stamkos has has 9 goals in 8 games, and leads the team in scoring at 12 goals. Martin St. Louis is frustrated that he hasn't been able to score in 9 games. Lecavalier and Tanguay had a good game on Thursday, hopefully we'll see another good game tonight, just please don't let this one go into OT...

For Montreal, Carey Price will get the start tonight. Even thought the Habs have claimed Jay Leach off of waivers from the Devils, he will not play tonight. Ryan White and
Tom Pyatt will both play tonight after being called up from Hamilton and playing well on Thursday.

According to Eyes on the Prize, the Habs will be wearing this jersey tonight, which is a step up from their where's waldo game last week:

As for some gossip, 25Stanley says the Lightning went partying at Globe on Thursday night...

Line-up Notes:
  • Niitymaki will get his 3rd straight start
  • Hedman will not play
  • D Kurtis Foster is in tonight
  • LW Todd Fedoruk is a healthy scratch
  • Drew Miller is in
  • D Matt Smaby is still a healthy scratch

Game time: 7:00pm ET. On HNIC (Quebec only), and SUN.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Game 14: Tampa in Ottawa

Do we play another other team besides the Senators these days? This is the third meeting between the two clubs this season, next meeting will be at the end of the season on April 8th

Enemy Blog: Check out Sens at Land's End or Scarlett Ice for your Ottawa perspective

Forward Ryan Craig cleared entry waivers today and could play tonight. And Paul Ranger has now been put on injured reserve to clear roster place, which will just fuel gossip about why he isn't playing.

The Senators have Volchenkov out, but Jason Spezza will play tonight after having missed the last two games with an "upper body injury".

The last two games went 7-1 for Ottawa, and 5-2 by Tampa, so we might be in store for another huge win for one team, hopefully this will be in the Bolts' favor. Expect to see some fights with Carkner, Ruutu and Neil in the lineup against Downie and Konopka. Both teams are coming off of wins.

Line-up Notes:
  • Niitymaki is the starter in goal
  • Ranger is on injured reserve
  • Ryan Craig has cleared waivers

Game time: 7:30pm ET. On SUN, and TSN2

I will be dropping in on Scarlett Ice's live blog sometime during the night, maybe for the 2nd and 3rd period, if not, join me over at Raw Charge. Please come, but do bring the funny.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Is Tocchet's new hobby putting his job in jeopardy?

The title is from Puck Daddy's post yesterday asking if calling out Lecavalier is a new hobby for Tocchet? Let's delve a little deaper into this hobby of Tocchet's, shall we?

Yes Vinny's October sucked. Blah blah blah. Cue the trade Vinny stories. But um, hate to break it to you, he has a no trade clause and most likely a no movement one too. So, for now let's just hope that
he has a better November than he did October.

But Tocchet has been yapping. He's been talking to the press, calling out the captain of the team, through the press. Let's take a little look at what has happened:
I know that Tocchet was just trying to do whatever he could be trying to "send" Lecavalier a message by demoting him down to the 3rd line. I don't think this move works for Lecavalier. Neither will benching your superstar, but I fear we're gonna see that one soon.

Calling out your player behind closed doors is one thing, calling him out regularly in the media is another thing. Is Tocchet trying the Tortorella approach?

One thing Vinny has that Tocchet doesn't have is that no trade clause. It's not often that the superstar gets traded just cause the coach doesn't think he's doesn't have enough "passion", so if Tocchet continues to keep up calling out Vinny through the media it would be more likely that Tocchet will get fired. Oren Koules is not dumb, he knows that he can't trade away Lecavalier since he's still the face of the franchise even if he could get Vinny to waive his NTC. In addition it will still be another year or two before Stamkos is ready to take on the role that Lecavalier has had for so many years, and a few more for Hedman as well.

If we look at the team, the team doesn't look like an awful team. It's a better team than we had last year. Tocchet got a free pass last year because he took over for Barry Melrose, and by comparison he was better, but we're lowering our overall standards here. If Tocchet can't make the team that he has into a team that can put together some wins, come out with a consistent effort, than he will lose his job. I'm not the biggest fan of Tocchet, I think he's looks too much like a pug and like to use the term "dogging for the puck" too much. I think that there are better coaches out there than Tocchet.

Right now it's in Tocchet's best interest to find a way help Lecavalier get his game back or he's gonna be the one who's gonna be benched. Superstars don't get fired, coaches do. Since we all know Tocchet is a gambling man, what is the over/under for a change of coaching regime by, let's say, Christmas?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Ohlund hit on Kessel - Welcome back to the NHL...

Game 13: Tampa in Toronto Notes

Just some quick notes before the game as I don't have time time to do a full preview:
  • Leafnation is patiently awaiting their "savior". Phil Kessel is in tonight and will play with Stajan at C and winger Blake
  • The Leafs' record is 1-7-4
  • My favorite monster, Gustavsson is in net tonight for the Leafs
  • James Wright's parents will be at the game
  • Stamkos is expected to have an entourage of over 50 people in attendance
  • Stevie Y will be taking in the game
Line-up Notes:
  • Niitymaki is starting in net
Game time: 7:30pm ET

Monday, November 2, 2009

Could Vinny be dropped from Team Canada?

Haven't heard much about it yet, but the thought has crossed my mind a few times. I know I'll be buying some Team Canada apparel for the Olympics in a few weeks and I would lean towards Lecavalier if it was player specific, but I do have a small fear that Lecavalier could be dropped from the team...It's not a big fear, but a small one (right now) and I think I would be heartbroken if he was.

This topic will come up more as Steve Yzerman will be at the Lightning/Leafs game tomorrow to scout out Lecavalier, St. Louis and Stamkos (as reported by the Globe and Mail, via St. Petersburg Times). Yzerman is expected to announce his roster sometime between Christmas and New Years.

I know Yzerman will choose players based suited to give the team the best chance of winning, it makes me wonder, and at what point would Lecavalier get dropped? How many more games of no goals will it take to have another player who is played well right now slide in to his place?

Mike Brophy first brought this up a couple of weeks ago questioning Lecavalier's slow start, and I just brushed it off thinking that in time, the goals would come (and well Brophy is not high on my list of opinions that I care about). And I know the goals will come, but since there are so few spots available and so much great talent, I hope that Lecavalier lights up the lamp in a hurry.

Lightning hold player only meeting after loss to Flyers

Today the players held a closed door meeting after the 6-2 loss to the Flyers. Tocchet heard about the meeting from the press. I didn't catch the game, but you can read the recap from Cassie over at Raw Charge. I know it wasn't a good effort from the team when Cassie decides not to really recap the game, rather to offer insight instead (and I really love when she does).

The movement of Lecavalier down to the 3rd line, well it didn't really work. What is actually made me do, was question about Tocchet's decision as a coach (more on this later). Since the drop didn't actually spark Vinny, it just made fans question why we are paying him the big bucks to play on a checking line. Vinny actually sounded like he played with some effort, getting shots on goal and trying to play more physical.

I agree with Cassie in saying that although Martin St. Louis is the heart and soul of the team, Lecavalier is still the captain. I've read some people write that Lecavalier should give up the C and it should be transferred to St. Louis, but I don't agree with that. You don't need a C to lead, and both Vinny and Marty lead in different ways. Lecavalier was given the C because he is the face of the franchise and until Stamkos or Hedman has proven themselves as the next leader, I just don't see the C being moved. Of course, St. Louis still needs to lead the team, but he doesn't need a C rather than an A to do it.

To all those people who want Lecavalier to give up his captaincy to St. Louis, have you ever thought about what that would do to his game? You think it's bad now that he is having trouble trying to find his scoring touch? It will be worse when his self esteem is deflated even more.

Lecavalier is not a player that you can trade, which is for two very basic reasons, besides the no-trade clause. When he is playing well, Lecavalier is the type of player that you WANT on your team. If Lecavalier were to have a couple of bad seasons, which club would want to trade for Lecavalier and his huge contract? The Lightning would have to pull some crazy trade of lunacy or robbery (like Bertuzzi for Luongo) to pull off trading a struggling Lecavalier to another team. If it came down to that, the Lightning may explore buying out his contract, but let's not hope that it has to come to an Alexei Yashin buyout. So for the Lightning unless they are prepared to part with their investment and huge dollars, it is really in their best interests to do everything in their power to get Lecavalier to play well.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Game 12: Tampa in Philly Preview

Lookout! It's everyone's favorite mancrush!

Why is the game early today?

Flyers have moved the game time to 5pm in an effort to remove any potential conflict that the game would have had with the World Series. Baseball. Can't really say I care about baseball, so this is an annoyance to me because now I can't watch the game tomorrow.

The Lightning have not won a road game yet. They have been outscored 18-6 and have a road record of 0-3-1. Those stats are not pretty.

Mike Smith will be in goal tonight as opposed to having Niitymaki start against his old team. Philly has been 6-4-1 so far in the season but has been a little inconsistent. They also have Simon Gagne and Danny Briere out with groin injuries.

The Lightning may have a chance as long as this game doesn't go to a shootout. They may also need to decide to show up to the game unlike Saturday afternoon.

The Lightning come off a light schedule of games that they've had for the last 2 weeks and begin a 4 game roadtrip that will occur over the next 6 days. They need to take advantage of the Flyers and their injuries early in the game, so that they don't get silenced by the difficult crowd in Philadelphia. Crowd-wise, this will be a tough roadtrip as the Lightning as they face the Flyers, Leafs, Senators and finish off with the Habs for HNIC on Saturday.

Line-up Notes
Game time: 5:00pm ET on SUN

Vinny gets dropped to the 3rd line

So "Joe Smith" reported on Lightning Strikes (did I just write that his name is Joe Smith?) that Lecavalier has been dropped down to the 3rd line to play with Drew Miller and Stephane Veilleux. Tocchet says that he is dropping him down not because of his lack of scoring, but rather because other parts of his game has slipped during the last couple of the games.

“Not finishing checks, cheating a little bit, the little things that I will not let…It’s unacceptable,” Tocchet said. “That’s the one thing I came into this year, if I see your game slipping – if you’re not scoring, I can live with it – but if you’re turning away from checks, and not battling down low defensively, if you’re constantly on the ice and teams are getting chances against you, videos don’t lie. This is something we’re going to correct the next day, it’s not going to be corrected next week. We’ve got to attack it.”-Lightning Strikes

Tocchet is thinking that pairing Lecavalier with two 'north-south' guys and a line with lower expectations could help his game.

"With the puck, I'm still confident with it," said Lecavalier, who has one goal (10 points) in 11 games. "Playing on the power play, moving the puck, and it keeps you in the game when you have the puck on your stick. I think it's going to come."-St. Petersburg Times

Lecavalier is taking this demotion well. He's a proud guy, and I'm sure that he wants to do anything to get his game back, but this is a blow to him. I'm impressed he even said anything to the press. Hopefully this demotion will light a fire in him to improve his play and get him back up to the top line.

But I've been a little surprised that we haven't started to call the Stamkos/Malone/St. Louis line the top line because really, isn't that what they have been?