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Submitted by pete on May 5, 2006 - 18:25
Some of you may have read about an article from the Red Deer Advocate which has bubbled to the surface this week speculating that Head Coach Brent Sutter is dissatisfied with the play of Lightning first round pick [url=vladimir-mihalik]Vladimir Mihalik[/url] and may be looking to replace the big Slovakian defenseman via the CHL Import Draft. Bolt Prospects correspondant Chad Schnarr contacted Greg Meacham of the Advocate and obtained a copy of the story which ran in March at the Rebels season end. Meacham admits that he was never told by Sutter directly that Mihalik wouldn't be asked back and that the story was his opinion/speculation. Bolt Prospects then contacted the Lightning organization to get their reaction to the story. The Lightning have not heard anything from their scouts or Red Deer about a falling out and intend to look into the matter further. The story leads to a number of questions regarding Mihalik's relationship with Coach Sutter in Red Deer. Most notably, why does the Advocate's WHL reporter get the impression from Sutter that the coach has such a negative opinion of Mihalik that he might not ask him back? Bear in mind, Sutter reportedly had a falling out last season with Lightning prospect [url=blair-jones]Blair Jones[/url] who was traded at midseason in 2004-2005 to Moose Jaw where he blossomed into the WHL's 6th leading scoring this year. In addition, Schnarr and Bolt Prospects have learned the Lightning still have not made decision regarding whether or not they will sign defenseman PJ Atherton.
Submitted by pete on May 5, 2006 - 15:20
The World Championships got underway today in Latvia with three Lightning properties thus far named to their nations' teams. Martin Cibak has been selected to Team Slovakia, Andreas Holmqvist to Team Sweden and Fredrik Norrena to Team Finland. The Finns got underway today as one of four opening matches knocking off Slovenia 5-3. Fredrik Norrena stopped 13 of 16 in the win. [b]Update:[/b] Defenseman Timo Helbling has also been named to the Swiss team's roster.
Submitted by pete on May 3, 2006 - 17:31
Andreas Holmqvist and Sweden won silver yesterday in the LG Games, losing to Russia 2-1 in the final match. Holmqvist had 2 assists in 4 games in the tournament. Finland, backstopped by Fredrik Norrena, defeated the Czech Republic 3-2 to win bronze stopping 27 of 29 shots faced in the game. Norrena stopped 31 of 32 in his other start in the tournament, a 5-1 win also against the Czechs.
Submitted by chad on May 3, 2006 - 13:14
Lightning prospect Justin Keller, one of two finalists for the 2005-2006 WHL Most Valuable Player (MVP) Award, watched as Justin Pogge of the Calgary Hitmen was named WHL MVP at an awards luncheon held today. Pogge, a Toronto Maple Leafs prospect, also won the top goaltender award. Keller, who scored 51 goals this year for the Kelowna Rockets, is expected to be signed by the Lightning in the next few weeks.
Submitted by pete on May 1, 2006 - 21:59
[b]The Bottom Line[/b] The Tampa Bay Lightning finished 43-33-6 this season with 92 points, eighth in the Eastern Conference and second in the Southeast Division. In 2003-2004, prior to the lockout, the club finished with 3 more wins but 14 more points in the standings. The Lightning's goal production this year actually improved by 7 goals, but their defense declined by a shocking 68 goals (that is not a typo) and the team actually scored 8 less goals than it allowed this season. The most important number though is 15, as in the 15 less playoff games the team won this season after being eliminated in the first round of the playoffs 4 games to 1 by the Ottawa Senators.