Boltprospects.com will be undergoing a much needed site upgrade tonight. Please bear with any strangeness....
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.
In my last commentary I took on Hockey's Future's ludicrous organizational rankings. Deservedly, Hockey's Future showed the apropriate amount of shame for the pointed criticism they received for having the audacity to claim legitimacy in their rankings even though they had not updated their Lightning rankings in half a year, had not had an article up on their site about the Lightning in over two months and did not even have a full time writer dedicated to the Lightning. True, they STILL don't have a full time writer covering the team but they at least made an attempt to provide content on their site putting up a cookie cutter story regurgitating the Lightning CHL prospects' statistics. I say cookie cutter because this is the exact same assignment that was given to all 30 teams and it involves nearly zero in the way of cogent, thoughful analysis to cut and paste a players' statistics. Still, given two months of complete journalistic neglect (if we use the loosest definition of journalism to allow for what Hockey's Future has become over the past couple of years) it was at least something.
And then today, much to the shock and surprise of the Lightning fan base, Hockey's Future finally released their top-20 rankings for the Tampa Bay Lightning, albeit months later than most other teams. Unfortunately, this badly cobbled attempt at fulfilling the most bare minimum of their obligations as a hockey site claiming to cover the prospects of every team fell so far short that even the poor fellow who was told to post the article under his name went onto HFboards to apologize to Lightning fans before his apology was pulled. I do not know whether he himself made the decision or if Hockey's Future management, ever more sensitive to the criticism that they're really and truly hacks with no qualifications or business critiquing the Tampa Bay Lightning's prospects, pulled the post. I do, however, know these rankings are awful.
Riddle me this Hockey's Future, how the hell can you have a defenseman who was just demoted to the ECHL ranked as the best prospect in the Lightning organization while Paul Ranger, who is in the NHL averaging 15 minutes of ice time a night with a very respectable +1 rating sits at 9th? Better yet, maybe you can explain to your readers why Nick Tarnasky, who also is in the NHL today is only the 19th best prospect in the organization? It boggles the mind.