NHL Game Night 3/10: Lightning at Flames

Lightning win Game Eight of the '04 Finals.

TB-3
CGY-2 (OT)

Marc Denis stopped 25 of 27 shots faced in the win. The Secret Weapon, Nick Tarnasky, and Maurice, er, Vincent Lecavalier led the way with 1 goal and 1 assist each in the game. Dan Boyle added the game winning overtime goal and Tim Taylor, Jason Ward, Ruslan Fedotenko and Martin St. Louis each had individual helpers.

And tonight, I think this Lightning team took their game to another level. It might have been premature to label this team a Stanley Cup contender even up until the past few games. But, to go into a hostile building (the hardest building to get a road win in the NHL) where the entire city of Calgary of geared up for payback for the '03-'04 Finals and where there's so much emotion on the ice and come out with two points, that's the stuff of champions. And, to me, it's the way they did it. True, he only got 6:32 of ice time, but little by little Nick Tarnasky's role on the team is expanding. And, also, Jason Ward playing 13:07 and getting his first point in a Lightning jersey is also seeing his role expand. This team needs to get quality minutes out of guys like Ward and Tarnasky on their lower lines if they're going to be successful in the playoffs and as time goes by these players are starting to show they may very well be up to the challenge.

The Lightning's win, coupled with Atlanta's earlier loss to Florida, puts the Lightning back into a tie with Atlanta in points atop the Southeast Division and they've managed to eat up that game in hand the Thrashers were holding for much of the week. Good good deal. And, don't look now, Marc Denis is starting to play winning hockey again. If the Lightning can get Holmqvist and Denis playing well going into the playoffs then the team is going to have the kind of tandem that last year's Cup winner in Carolina proved can be successful.

First Period
Tampa Bay 18:25, Nick Tarnasky 4 (Tim Taylor, Jason Ward)

Second Period
Calgary 13:56, Jeff Friesen 5 (Rhett Warrener, Andrei Zyuzin)

Third Period
Calgary 4:28, Craig Conroy 11 (Andrei Zyuzin, Alex Tanguay)
Tampa Bay 6:35, Vincent Lecavalier 46 (Nick Tarnasky, Ruslan Fedotenko)

Overtime
Tampa Bay 2:59, Dan Boyle 15 (power play) (Vincent Lecavalier, Martin St. Louis)

Game sheet from NHL.com.

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analysis

Excellent analysis Pete. I was really impressed with the way Ward played last night, and the 3rd and 4th lines were real difference makers last night. We need those guys to pick it up in order to rest the big 3 for the playoffs. Plus for us to go deep we need goals from them. By the way did you notice OB's end-to-end rushes? he looked like a bigger Boyle out there. How good a shot does OB have? any info on that? Could he work on the PP?

O'Brien looks like he's

O'Brien looks like he's having a ball in this new system and I'm still shocked and amazed how fast he can get that big backside of his moving once he gets going.

I was even more impressed with when he stood up one of Calgary's forwards in the slot Smaby style and put them on their back. Haven't seen that from a Lightning defenseman in forever.

He's worth the 1st

Appears to be a win-win trade. When you compare O'B to Pronger and Niedermeyer (sp?)it appears he's not that much and we overpaid. When you look at the price we would have paid in the playoff race for having no top 4 replacement when Ranger went down - he's a steal for us. Heck, he played 1st pair last night and we shut down a good team that has been unbeatable in their house. The puck skating ability has been a huge boost to the team as well as the hitting and the in-your-face style after every stoppage of play.

Next season the top 4 of Boyle, O'B, Ranger and Kuba can log a lot of minutes. This gives us more flexibility in what we do about forming a 3rd pair. Possibly, that would mean Holmquist and 1 of the young 4 along with a Janik/Pratt type could rotate on the bottom pair without the pressure of having to play critical minutes early in the season.

O'Brien

At first I wasn't to happy about giving up that much and then I saw him play. I like everything about him. The size, skating ability and especially that great first pass. I think when he learns the system he will even be better. We have to keep in mind that we got a 23 year old D-Man that is NHL ready that a 1st round pick at 24 or higher will not give us. Keep in mind we have 4 years of RFA which I think is the biggest thing in the salary cap era.

I am not sold on Kuba being a top 4 d-man. I really think we made a bad signing there. I would rather Pratt be in that discussion of top 4 d-man than Kuba. At least Pratt his a stay at home guy, where Kuba doesn't know what he is.

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