Tomorrow's headline should read: "Paper Champions Get Folded Up".
Johan Holmqvist barely had to break a sweat stopping 13 of 15 shots he faced for the win.
Tampa Bay 5:22, Vincent Lecavalier 3 (unassisted)
Atlanta 8:58, Slava Kozlov 1 (Tobias Enstrom, Todd White)
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.
The showdown for the #6 and #7 defenseman jobs for the Tampa Bay Lightning looks like it will begin in earnest on Saturday night against the Caps.
According to Carter Gaddis on Erik Erlendsson's blog, the night will mark this year's preseason debut for the pairing of Brad Lukowich and Matt Smaby as well as for the pairing of Dan Jancevski and Doug Janik. From the outside looking in, it appears Smaby, Jancevski, and Janik are all vying for one the two open vacancies. One will be left out, but whom?
Saturday's lines and pairings:
Lightning fans who know me know that when it comes to this team's prospects I've been a big booster of the concept of Karri Ramo making it to the NHL sooner rather than later. However, for Ramo to make the team out of camp would be an improbable event because the business side of the game all but precludes it. The Lightning have invested roughly $4 million dollars in the tandem of Johan Holmqvist and Marc Denis heading into the 2007-2008 season, and the team learned this summer that Denis is virtually untradable at this point in time after such a poor campaign last season. I won't even attempt to argue for Ramo's promotion to the bigs from a business standpoint, because it doesn't make sense.
But from a hockey standpoint it makes all the sense in the world, and it makes sense on two levels...
Apologies for the site's technical difficulties last night...
Erik Erlendsson of the Tampa Tribune is reporting the Lightning have re-signed goaltender Johan Holmqvist to a 1 year deal. The contract is reported to be worth $1 million dollars and will offer Holmqvist the opportunity to prove himself as a #1 netminder in the NHL with the potential of a greater payoff next summer if he does.