Smaby, who made his NHL debut on October 4 against New Jersey, has recorded four penalty minutes in four games.
A Minnesota native and University of North Dakota product, Smaby spent a majority of last season at Springfield in the AHL, registering two tallies and 16 points in 66 contests. He was selected by the Lightning in the second round of the 2003 draft.
Damian Cristodero of the St. Pete Times speculates Smaby could return to Tampa after a three-game weekend with the Admirals and that this move looks to be unrelated to Dan Boyle returning.
In the new era of the NHL where the salary cap reigns, it is imperative clubs find and develop their own talent through their farm system. Since the lockout in 2004-2005, the Lightning has been forced to compete to stay at the top of the food chain by carefully shopping for affordable free agents and coordinating financially-sensitive trades. While other clubs have had the option of plugging multiple holes with cost-feasible prospects, the Lightning has been forced to look outside the organizational depth chart for help.
Opening night wins are a good thing.
New Jersey 9:06, Brian Gionta 1 (power play) (Zach Parise, Travis Zajac)
Tampa Bay lays an egg in what was supposed to be their tune up for the regular season.
Marc Denis allowed 4 goals on 14 shots for the loss before giving way to Johan Holmqvist who allowed 1 goal on 18 shots.
No matter how you slice this, tonight's result was disappointing considering this supposedly was the lineup John Tortorella wants in place on opening night. The poor result was further compounded by more injury issues as forward Nick Tarnasky had his nose broken in a fight and defenseman Paul Ranger left the game with a minor shoulder injury.
Right now the Lightning have nothing resembling continuity in their forward lines or their defensive pairings due to injuries resulting in precious few opportunities for units to work together at game speed to get their timing. As a consequence the Lightning were outshot 32-23 tonight and, frankly, there are no quick fixes. The Lightning will have to try to get healthy again and grind it out over the first few weeks of the season and try to keep their heads above water while the rust and the growing pains are shaken off.
The Lightning were fortunate to have dressed an extra defenseman tonight and Paul Ranger's minutes were partially absorbed by the three headed monster of Mike Lundin, Matt Smaby, and Doug Janik. Unfortunately, the three were a combined -5 in the game.
Lundin led the group in ice time with 20:27 but was -2 with no shots on goal and no hits for the contest. Smaby had the second most ice time at 14:36 and was -1 with 1 hit. Janik brought up the rear with 12:32 of ice time and a -2 rating. Both Smaby and Janik also took penalties for tripping and hooking, respectively.
Erik Erlendsson has another blog post today noting that veteran AHLers Bryce Lampman, Kyle Wanvig, and Mathieu Darche have been put on waivers with a view toward reassigning them to Norfolk of the AHL. Erlendsson goes on to speculate this may mean that contrary to prior statements by the Lightning, they may carry 21 into the regular season meaning both prospects Mike Lundin and Matt Smaby may make the opening night roster.
Hat tip to Randy from Admirals Zone for bringing it to my attention.
According to Erik Erlendsson's blog the fourth line at today's practice included center Craig MacDonald while the third pairing at the practice featured defensemen Doug Janik and Mike Lundin. Given that Torts has been adament that his lineup Saturday night will be his opening night lineup barring injuries and that the team will only carry 20 players into the regular season this may be a tip off that veteran forwards Kyle Wanvig, Mathieu Darche, Bryce Lampman and prospect Matt Smaby will be the odd men out.
Kind of a mixed bag in this game.
Karri Ramo stopped 20 of 23 shots faced for the win. He was hung out to dry on the Wings two early goals but did manage to retain composure and made some key stops in the second before surrendering a soft goal in the third. More good than bad.
Martin St. Louis potted a pair of goals with double assists going to Jason Ward and Brad Richards. Andre Roy and Andreas Karlsson also had goals. Vaclav Prospal, Craig MacDonald, and Filip Kuba all had individual helpers.
Big winner of the night: Craig MacDonald who probably just made the Lightning's opening night roster by virtue of Ryan Craig's slipped back disc. He had an assist and was +1 with 3 shots on goal to celebrate.
The other big winner of the night: the Lightning power play which might've found a temporary solution with Martin St. Louis filling in for Dan Boyle on the point.
Finally, for the winners, Mike Lundin gets 12:02 of ice time with one shot on goal. However humble that might be, it was more than Janik and Lampman got tonight. The door may be open for Matt Smaby to charge back into the race now if he can play a strong, confident game Thursday night.
I wouldn't label any losers in this game although the quest for Ramo, Mathieu Darche, and Kyle Wanvig looks to be coming to a close. Ramo and Darche look like strong possibilities for recall down the road though.
Erik Erlendsson has the lineup for tonight's game against Detroit.
At first blush, it looks like Karri Ramo is going to get the start tonight in net. Count me as in favor of Ramo having about a 34 save shutout tonight and really putting the Lightning brass under the gun. A little controversy is healthy.
More importantly though, Torts is going with seven defensemen and it looks to me like these might be the seven he is currently thinking of keeping in Tampa while Dan Boyle recovers from wrist surgery. Doug Janik and Bryce Lampman will be the #5 and #6 defensemen tonight while Mike Lundin will be the #7. Is this a signal that Matt Smaby is on the outside looking in?
The Lightning's first round of cuts have been posted on tampabaylightning.com. All have been assigned to Norfolk.
The battle for the last defensive spot goes down to Smaby, Lundin, Bryce Lampman, and Doug Janik.
A 20-19 shot barn burner. Yes, that's sarcasm.
Johan Holmqvist stopped 18 of 20 in the loss.
First, Vincent Lecavalier left the game with an upper body injury and did not return. Cuts and third pairing defensive jobs and fourth liners aside, the obvious priority for the Lightning in this preseason is to make sure Lecavalier, Richards, St. Louis, and Boyle get out of it healthy. Hopefully the Lightning were just being extra cautious in shutting down #4 for the evening.
Martin St. Louis had the Lightning's goal shorthanded off assists from Lecavalier and Boyle.
Big winner of the night: Doug Janik. Of all the Lightning d-men battling for the last two defensive spots he got the most ice time at 16:24 with 2 shots and 3 blocked shots. He, Lecavalier, and St. Louis were also the only Lightning players to be plus players for the night.
Big loser: Dan Jancevski. 7 shifts. 5:20 of ice time. Looks from the outside like he might be the one shuffling off to Norfolk tonight and Bryce Lampman could possibly survive the first wave.
Matt Smaby got 12:54 of ice time and was even with a blocked shot and 2 penalty minutes.
With Lecavalier, Gratton, and Craig all nicked, Craig MacDonald looks like he might stick around a bit.