Pete Choquette's blog
The Hockey News has released their annual future watch issue and the underestimated Lightning were once again pigeon holed in last place with a D+ grade. Tom Jones of the St. Pete Times, who is a contributor to the publication, penned an article today portraying the Lightning prospect system as one on the precipice of disaster. The melodramatic key line of the piece states:
"Still, it cannot be ignored that the Lightning system is at a crossroads."
This may be the first competent piece of work that Hockey's Future has published about the Tampa Bay Lightning in over a year. Kudos to Tanya Lyon for having the skill to write it, and even more so to somehow get it approved by the biased individual who currently occupies the online editorial position on the site. Yes indeed, the much maligned Lightning prospect system IS churning out NHL caliber players at a clip that the lazy reporting that went into HF's organizational rankings would lead many to believe was impossible. Here's to hoping the powers that be have finally had an epiphany. Or, if not, that the Lightning's four prospects slated to play at the upcoming WJC's further embarass HF into having one.
The Lightning officially have one prospect in the upcoming U-20 World Junior Championships with Karri Ramo announced for Team Finland. Meanwhile, Andy Rogers has a long shot chance of making Team Canada after being invited to their selection camp. Don't expect that to be the end of the announcements though.
An unofficial list is being circulated around the internet showing Kingston (OHL) forward Radek Smolenak joining Team Czech Republic. Also returning to the WJC's will probably be Stanislav Lascek, who just slips under the age limit turning 20 just after the tournament, and perhaps Marek Bartanus who played last season for Team Slovakia in the U-18 tournament. Hulking defenseman Vladamir Mihalik, who also played for Slovakia in the U-18 tournament should join his countrymen as well.
Lost in the last couple of weeks of hockey is the fact that as of right now the Tampa Bay Lightning have the best record of any team in the NHL over their last 10 games (8-1-1). Isn't it amazing? Especially when you think it seems like just yesterday we were lamenting a six game losing streak and the hockey media was just about getting ready to write the Tampa Bay Lightning's obituary.
And the interesting thing is: I think we'd all have to agree this club is only playing up to about 85% of its capability right now. The offense has not been anywhere near as explosive as it could be and the defense, while workmanlike on many nights allowing a miniscule amount of shots, could be tighter.
Heaven help the NHL if the Lightning finds fourth gear. It's good to be the champs.
Stan Lascek had 4 assists and was named the game's #1 star tonight for Chicoutimi. So don't throw yourselves off any bridges just yet.