Tampa Bay Lightning
In an article in today's St. Pete Times, Lightning General Manager Jay Feaster acknowledges that lack of firepower was a main reason the Springfield Falcons struggled as the Lightning's affiliate.
"We need to find some goal scorers," Feaster told the Times. "Even if they're not immediately going to be big-time goal scorers here they can be big-time goal scorers down there and give us that organizational depth."
Damian Cristodero, the article's author, suggests this may be a mult-year project. Head scout Jake Goertzen told the newspaper this year's draft is believed to be generally shallow. He said the greatest talent will be available in 2008.
Goertzen said the team would not pass up a stud at another position but agreed, "We must upgrade our skill and scoring."
The Lightning were in this position two years ago when they focused on addressing the need for skill and scoring at the 2005 draft, but ended up taking behemoth defenseman Vladimir Mihalik in the first round. The Lightning's next six picks were skilled players, and though at the time Feaster said, "Of our top four picks, we would've been happy taking any of them with our 30th overall pick," Mihalik made it three straight years Tampa Bay took a defenseman with their first pick.
And, just like that, the Lightning no longer control their division title destiny.
Johan Holmqvist allowed 4 goals on 24 shots for the loss while Marc Denis allowed 3 goals on 5 shots in relief. Filip Kuba had the only Lightning goal off assists from Doug Janik and Nick Tarnasky. The Lightning now trail Atlanta by six points in the division with a game in hand after the Thrashers' overtime win against Buffalo today. Just 4 points separate 6th place Tampa Bay and the 9th place New York Islanders now, putting the Lightning in the uncomfortable position of not only seeing their division title hopes slip away, but also seeing that making the playoffs may become a difficult task as well.
Bad, bad, bad time of year for a three game losing streak.
Washington 5:31, Tomas Fleischmann 3 (Boyd Gordon)
Washington 13:38, Tomas Fleischmann 4 (Kris Beech, Milan Jurcina)
Washington 1:14, Alexander Semin 35 (power play) (Chris Clark, Brian Pothier)
Washington 6:45, Alexander Semin 36 (Tomas Fleischmann)
Washington 8:18, Alexander Semin 37 (Kris Beech, Matt Bradley)
Tampa Bay 17:44, Filip Kuba 11 (Doug Janik, Nick Tarnasky)
Washington 10:34, Alexandre Giroux 2 (unassisted)
Washington 17:55, Boyd Gordon 5 (Tomas Fleischmann, Shaone Morrisonn)
Game sheet from NHL.com.
The Springfield Falcons have announced that defenseman Matt Smaby has been recalled to Tampa Bay of the NHL. In addition, forward Kyle Wanvig has been returned to the Falcons and goaltender Ryan Munce has been recalled from Johnstown of the ECHL.
Jonathan Boutin is in net tonight being backed up by Bryon Lewis, an emergency goaltender who was signed yesterday by the Springfield Falcons. This points to either an injury to Karri Ramo or a recall to Tampa Bay. Munce is still with Johnstown, apparently, playing backup tonight against Reading.
All of a sudden these 1 goal games aren't going the Lightning's way.
Marc Denis allowed 3 goals on 20 shots in the loss. Vincent Lecavalier had both Lightning goals while Vaclav Prospal had a pair of assists in the game. Martin St. Louis and Dan Boyle added individual assists. The Lightning outshot the conference leading Sabres 37-20 in the game but were unable to break Ryan Miller when it mattered most.
The Lightning's loss couples with Atlanta's overtime win against the Rangers drops Tampa Bay to 4 points back in the Southeast Division with 1 game in hand.
Tampa Bay 2:11, Vincent Lecavalier 47 (Martin St. Louis, Vaclav Prospal)
Buffalo 7:29, Jason Pominville 30 (Nathan Paetsch, Daniel Briere)
Buffalo 8:05, Derek Roy 14 (Thomas Vanek, Drew Stafford)
Buffalo 10:24, Jason Pominville 31 (Daniel Briere, Jochen Hecht)
Tampa Bay 4:38, Vincent Lecavalier 48 (Vaclav Prospal, Dan Boyle)
Game sheet from NHL.com.