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Content regarding the Tampa Bay Lightning organization.

Game Night 11/14: Flyers at Lightning

We. Are. Back. PHI-2 TB-5 With St. Louis out, with the Lightning riding a 6 game losing streak, with the Philadelphia Flyers riding a wave of momentum into town, you saw something you haven't seen in the Lightning all season. Desperation. They challenged the Flyers for every inch of ice. Every loose puck. Not just two lines getting all the ice time, but four. All physically competing. THAT is Lightning hockey, and it looks like maybe this team has finally received the wake up call. And oh yeah, Marty Cibak with the timely goal. I forgot what those look like. Paul Ranger played a ton, 18:58 in all including more power play time than I think he's ever gotten. There were a few frightening moments where he had to be bailed out by Grahame, but he ended +1 on the night. Evgeny Artyukhin assisted on Marty Cibak's breakaway goal. I wish he was a little surer on the first touch with the puck, but once he gets ahold of it steaming down the wing, you're hard pressed to take it from him, and you'll pay the price to do it. +1 and a team high, by far, 7 hits. If he had made the team from opening night, I think he would've had an excellent chance of leading the league in that statistic. Game sheet from [url=http://www.nhl.com/scores/htmlreports/20052006/GS020268.HTM]NHL.com.[/url]

Lascek Stands Alone; Streak Hits 14 Games

Stan Lascek is now alone on top of the QMJHL scoring race after getting two assists in a 4-3 overtime loss to Halifax Saturday night. His Chicoutimi teammate Maxime Boisclair was scoreless for the game, giving Lascek a two point lead with 51 points in 23 games. Lascek now has a league-leading active scoring streak of 14 games in which he has accumulated 8 goals and 23 assists. Boisclair's QMJHL season-high 21 game streak ended Saturday. Lightning fans haven't seen a statistical performance like Lascek's out of one of their CHL prospects since Brad Richards' 186 point MVP season for Rimouski in 1999-2000.

Lightning AHL Affiliation Moving to Orlando?

Here's a simply intriguing story [url=http://bolts.tbo.com/lightning/MGBOJ5RDXFE.html]wedged in the middle of Erik Erlendsson's Lightning Notebook in the Trib today.[/url] As reported earlier this week, Bruce Landon is heading to Tampa in December to attempt to hammer out an affiliation with the Lightning through 2010. On the face of it, it seems like a natural fit. However, Erlendsson notes the (worthless, bottom feeding) Florida Panthers have been making noise about moving into a full affiliation in Orlando, former home of the IHL's Solar Bears. The Panthers currently share an affiliation with the Buffalo Sabres' affiliate in Rochester. Jay Feaster cannot allow the Panthers to set up shop in Central Florida thereby cutting into the Lightning's territorial base. So events may conspire that could see the [i]Lightning[/i] set up AHL shop in Orlando. Certainly, that situation would be a boon for Central Florida based fans of the team interested in seeing their young prospects develop. An AHL affiliate within driving distance would be fantastic for the Lightning fan base. On the other hand, one of the reasons that the Lightning and other clubs have balked at putting a team back in Orlando is the increased team travel costs. The AHL is primarily a Northeastern league, and distance is a disadvantage for the Orlando market. And, unfortunately, a decision to move to Orlando would hurt a Springfield market that has already had more than its fair share of being kicked while down. The Lightning's contract with Springfield expires after this year, so we should see the resolution of this situation very soon.

Game Night 11/11: Lightning at Thrashers

OK, OK, is this finally rock bottom? TB-2 ATL-5 I would've preferred Gerald Coleman's debut had come under better circumstances. The Tampa Bay Lightning just blew a two goal lead and allowed themselves to be beaten by an ECHL level goaltender. That's the plain, unvarnished truth. I have no doubt that the word of closed door players only meetings is right around the corner. There needs to be a "come to Jesus" for this team. And it's clear to me that it is no longer Dave Andreychuk and Tim Taylor's ship to fix. They have fulfilled their charge to nurse a bunch of kids into an NHL contender and Stanley Cup champion. Those kids are all grown up, and those kids are the ones who now need to step up and take ownership of what is happening to this team. There are about $15 million dollars being tied up in three players on this team: Lecavalier, St. Louis and Richards. We can talk about the unstable goaltending or the fact Darryl Sydor couldn't defend his way out of a wet paper sack right now, but that ignores the obvious. In all of these games where the Lightning knew going in they had a goaltender with flagging confidence or a wet behind the ears rookie between the pipes they still only managed to score a couple of goals against Atlanta, New York and Montreal. The timely goal scoring has simply not been there. Much of the reason for that is that the Tampa Bay Lightning simply have not made the commitment in moment-of-truth situations in this six game losing streak to make the hard, dirty play. To shoot the puck and crash the net. This team is still looking for answers in tic-tac-toe plays that never work when you're struggling instead of putting on their hard hat, grabbing their lunch pail and doing what it takes to get points in crunch time. It's time to start making that commitment again. It's time to start talking about accountability again. But the one's stepping up in those closed door meetings to talk about accountability need to be the $15M men. It's time to grow up. It's time the torch was passed. It's time that Vincent Lecavalier no longer leads the team in zeros and the end of his check but also he leads vocally in the dark times. And no, I'm not blaming Vinny or saying he's dogging it. Quite the contrary, he's one of the few players on this team playing decent hockey right now. But he can't just sit back anymore while Dave Andreychuk and Tim Taylor do all the heavy lifting in the locker room. Nor can Brad Richards. Nor can Martin St. Louis. This is their time, and if things are going to turn around they need to make this, unequivocally, their team. Right now. By the grace of God, this team plays in such an awful division 2 games under .500 can still find you in second place ahead of Florida. But that won't last forever. It's time to get back to work.

Game Night 11/10: Ranger at Lightning

Is this rock bottom? NYR-5 TB-2 I want to vomit. Need more analysis? OK, I want to projectile vomit. This team can't seem to buy a timely goal or save in the third period and now even bounces are going off the back of opposing players' necks and into the net. Sub-.500, terrible. You don't want to see the game sheet.

Lightning Recall Gerald Coleman

Jonathan Boutin may be staying put in Springfield for a little while after all... Goaltender Gerald Coleman [url=http://www.falconsahl.com/detpages/pressbox2811.shtml]has been recalled by the Tampa Bay Lightning.[/url] The netminder is 3-2 this season for the Falcons with a .895 save percentage and a 3.21 goals against average.

Game Night 10/8: Lightning at Canadiens

You've got a rookie goaltender in net... you've GOT to give him more than 2 goals of support. TB-2 MTL-3 On the one hand it's gratifying to see Ranger and Artyukhin be two of the best players for the Lightning tonight. On the other, it's frightening that they've been two of the best players for the Lightning both in Montreal and in Toronto. Shot totals were plenty lopsided at 34-19 in favor of the Lightning but scoring chances were pretty much even due to some thoughtless, sloppy play. Paul Ranger ended with an assist, a team leading +2, and 2 shots on goal in 15:39 of ice time. His final shift in the third period epitomized just how well he is playing at both ends of the rink, taking the body to win the puck on a Montreal dump in, keeping a puck in at the Montreal blueline for a shot on goal, then breaking up a 2-on-1 when Boyle was caught pinching to finish the shift off. Evgeny Artyukhin also had an assist and an impressive 5 hits in 17:35 of ice time. The entire rest of the team only had 6 hits combined. On the other side of the coin Nick Tarnasky only played 2 shifts tonight. 2. If that's all he's going to be used I believe the Lightning have an obligation to send him back to Springfield where he can actually play and develop. Brian Eklund stopped 16 of 19 shots faced in the loss. He was also beaten a handful of times and enjoyed the aid of the goalposts to save him. It was a rough spot to put Brian in for his premiere game and all told, he made enough saves to give the Lightning a chance at points. Again, with a rookie netminder in, just two goals is simply unacceptable in terms of support. Game sheet from [url=http://www.nhl.com/scores/htmlreports/20052006/ES020227.HTM]NHL.com.[/url]

TSN: Eklund Starts Tonight

TSN.ca is reporting that Brian Eklund [url=http://www.tsn.ca/nhl/feature/?fid=10460&hubname=]will make his first NHL start tonight against the Montreal Canadiens.[/url] The former 2000 7th round pick was called up last week when Sean Burke strained his groin in a practice session and rumors abound that starter John Grahame may also be ailing, prompting this decision.

Game Night 11/5: Lightning at Leafs

Ironically, the last game the Lightning played pretty well until the 3rd. Tonight they didn't really seem to show up until the final frame. No, wait, that's not ironic. It just plain sucks. TB-3 TOR-5 Game sheet from [url=http://www.nhl.com/scores/htmlreports/20052006/GS020209.HTM]NHL.com.[/url] [b]Update 10:08 PM:[/b] In fairness, I should've put my disgust at the final outcome aside and mentioned Evgeny Artyukhin's first NHL goal and the 12:41 of ice time he played tonight. It appears to me R2 may be up to stay. 15:35 and +1 for Ranger, the only plus player on the night. 8 shifts for 5:42 for Tarnasky with his first NHL point, a helper on R2's goal.

Game Night 11/1: Thrashers at Lightning

Very disappointing outcome for a Lightning team that could've gone a long way towards burying a division foe by running their record to 3-0 head to head. ATL-6 TB-4 I continue to be amazed at the trust being earned by young Paul Ranger. 17:12 of ice time tonight was just 3 seconds less than veteran Darryl Sydor. Granted, Sydor hasn't been a pillar of strength this season, but it shows how well the young defenseman is meshing into the defensive corps already. Ranger was +1 with 1 shot on goal for the game. Tarnasky and Artyukhin played a very sparing three and a half minutes each. Tarnasky had 2 shots on goal and R2 had 3 hits, so they made the most of their limited time. Still, it seems to me the clock is ticking for the Lightning to make a decision about their lower lines. Springfield has a game tomorrow night so if Feaster is going to make a roster move word should come down pretty soon. In my opinion, developing players like Tarnasky and Artyukhin aren't well served playing 4 minutes (or less) a night for long periods of time. It's especially troublesome given the team's cap condition. So, to me, either there needs to be a commitment from Tortorella to play one or both of these players more that grows from the outright statement that they have won Cibak or Dingman's spot on the team (and that Feaster will bite the bullet and send one or both of those vets down and through waivers), or Tarnasy and R2 need to rejoin the Falcons. Game sheet [url=http://www.nhl.com/scores/htmlreports/20052006/GS020180.HTM]from NHL.com.[/url]
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