Thankfully, tonight was just 1 of 82.
Mike Smith allowed 6 goals on 28 shots for the loss. That's not the start to the season you want from your number one goaltender.
ATL 8:20, Kovalchuk 1 (Little, Kubina)
ATL 11:23, Salmela 1 (Boulton, Thorburn)
ATL 9:01, Bogosian 1 (Peverley, Enstrom)
ATL 12:42, Peverley 1 (Kane)
TB 14:01, St. Louis 1 (Hedman, Ohlund)
TB 19:15, St. Louis 2 (Stamkos, Tanguay)(PP)
TB 2:11, Meszaros 1 (Walker, Lecavalier)
ATL 11:52, Peverley 2 (Kovalchuk, Afinogenov)
ATL 13:15, Kovalchuk 2 (Little, Enstrom)
The Lightning actually outshot the Thrashers 39-28 in the contest.
It was just an uneven effort from the Lightning. At times they looked fantastic, and the Tanguay line in particular looked magical in terms of puck possession, but it seemed like a couple of bad bounces and the team just did not respond. They couldn't manage much puck possession for about a 10 minute span between the first and second periods. It shouldn't be 4-0 before you start to respond to adversity. I applaud the battle level to get back to 4-3, but it was too little too late.
Kurtis Foster disintegrated on his first shift. Yeah, he was the second defenseman I took on my fantasy team. Guess how happy I am? In general, I thought the Lightning were very loose in the neutral zone and they allowed the Thrashers too much speed through the neutral zone, and the defense struggled with it. The backcheck from the forwards needs to get stronger, and I'd like to see Matt Smaby get in there to throw a few hits at the blueline to try and slow the rush down. Hedman had a couple of plays where he had guys lined up well to slow them down at the blueline, but he doesn't have the killer instinct Smaby has. The Lightning actually outhit the Thrashers 21-10, but overall it seemed like a very soft effort by a Lightning team that had its best successes last season when it raised the intensity level and took the body. Andrej Meszaros, in particular, is a guy who is a far better player when he ups his battle level. Ditto Paul Ranger. Ryan Malone had as many hits as the defensive corps combined tonight. That's great for Ryan but unacceptable for those defensemen if they're serious about taking the next step. More intensity please.
Steve Downie had 2 hits in 14:39. He had some good moments. He started on the Lecavalier line and had a couple of chances early and buried Evander Kane on a hit in the first half of the game, too. He made a handful of decent backchecking plays, also. But, by the third period, he was off the Lecavalier line and down on the checking lines. We'll see how this develops.
Drew Miller was scoreless in 12:59.
Zenon Konopka was -1 with 7 penalty minutes, 2 shots, and 1 hit in 6:17. He had a great fight once the Lightning fell behind 4-0 that seemed to wake the Lightning up from their sleepwalking. He contributed something tonight, which is important.
James Wright had 1 shot and 2 hits in 11:53. That third line with Halpern and Miller just didn't seem to do much, even though they were out at key junctures in the game. It's not the kid's fault, but that line in general needs to contribute more.
Victor Hedman got his first NHL assist, but was -2 with 5 shots, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in a team high 26:27. He looked good jumping into the play, and was fairly strong positionally. It was a good debut, despite the minuses.
That, boys and girls, is what a clinic looks like.
Mike Smith allowed 1 goal on 21 shots for the win.
TB 12:11, Konopka 1 (Ranger)
TB 13:08, Stamkos 1 (St. Louis, Lecavalier)(PP)
TB 2:23, St. Louis 1 (Stamkos, Lecavalier)(PP)
ATL 5:40, Thorburn 1 (Salmela, Slater)
TB 7:08, Ohlund 1 (Lecavalier, Tanguay)
TB 12:20, Stamkos 2 (Malone, St. Louis) (PP)
If that was a preview of the regular season, then I'd say that's a pretty resounding statement the Lightning just issued. The Lightning had 3 power play goals and were 3/7 overall with the man advantage. There's no reason for this club not to be top-10 in the league with the man advantage, and it's hard to miss the playoffs when you're that good with the extra man.
Paul Ranger's shoulder must feel ok after playing a team high 22:19. Pretty fascinating ice time distribution in this game among the defensemen with only Ranger going over 20 minutes.
Final cuts are due by Wednesday. Tuesday at noon would be the deadline for the Lightning to place any eligible player who needs to go through waivers on the wire before sending them down to Norfolk.
Steve Downie was -1 with 6 penalty minutes and 1 shot in 10:31.
Drew Miller was scoreless in 13:39.
Zenon Konopka had a goal and was +1 with 2 penalty minutes and 3 shots on goal in 11:37.
James Wright had 2 penalty minutes, 1 shot, and 1 hit in 13:32.
Victor Hedman was +1 with 2 blocked shots in 19:49.
Erik Erlendsson of the Tampa Tribune has released the roster for the Tampa Bay Lightning's only pre-season home game Friday night against the Atlanta Thrashers. 2009 1st round draft picks Victor Hedman and Carter Ashton highlight six prospects that will get important starts in a star-filled lineup in front of an expectant home crowd. After playing 27+ minutes against Dallas Wednesday night, Hedman will get a chance to showcase why he was the #2 overall pick this summer. Ashton will line up on right wing alongside franchise center Vincent Lecavalier and Alex Tanguay on what presumes to be Tampa's top line. A heady start for the young power forward whom most believe is headed back Lethbridge for one more year of juniors. Forwards Paul Szczechura, Richard Panik and Blair Jones get their second consecutive starts after playing Wednesday against the Stars. Jones tallied the go-ahead goal in the third period before the Bolts succumbed to a shootout loss. Prospect goaltender phenom Dustin Tokarski will relieve Mike Smith for the third period and demonstrate to the home crowd as to why he won the 2008 Memorial Cup.
The expected forward lines for Friday's game are:
Joining Hedman on the blueline for a second straight game are David Hale, Kurtis Foster, and Mike Lundin. Mattias Ohlund will be making his Lightning debut and Lukas Krajicek rounds out the Bolt defensive corps. Joining Tokarski in net is Lightning #1 goalie Mike Smith in his first game action since a concussion prematurely ended his 2008-09 season.
The Lightning's minor leaguers drop one in a shootout to half of the Stars' first stringers.
Antero Nittymaki allowed 2 goals on 15 shots through the first 40 minutes before giving way to Jaroslav Janus who allowed 1 goal on 11 shots in the third and overtime before going 2/3 in the penalty shot session for the overtime loss. All in all, a very good performance for a young man who has been challenged to earn a pro contract.
DAL 9:28, Eriksson 1 (PP) (Modano)
DAL 18:51, Richards 1 (PP) (Modano, Neal)
TB 5:45, Fedoruk 1 (Mclean)
TB 19:31, Mclean 1 (PP) (Foster, Downie)
TB 5:55, Jones 1 (Halpern, Miller)
DAL 16:46, Neal 1 (Richards, Eriksson)
DAL - Richards
Winners? Brett McLean, who is also looking for a contract, drops 1 goal and 1 assist. The Kurtis Foster experiment gets off to a decent start with a power play assist, a +1, and 4 shots on goal. Richard Panik earns 15 minutes of ice time, which is a team high for forward prospects not named Steve Downie or Drew Miller. And Janus? Probably got a contract.
Steve Downie had a helper and was +1 in 17:03 with 2 penalty minutes, 1 shot, and 4 hits. Still my pick to win the job on the Lecavalier/Tanguay line.
Drew Miller had 1 helper and was +1 with 2 shots and 1 hit in 16:43.
Paul Szczechura was -1 in 12:22 with 1 shot on goal and 2 hits. He was also 33% on draws. If there was a loser in this game, in the race to win a roster, maybe it was Szczechura.
Dana Tyrell was -1 in 12:09 with 2 shots and 1 hit. He had a breakaway opportunity shorthanded he was stopped on. Coach Tocchet said he wanted to see if Tyrell could kill penalties. Shortie breakaways don't hurt.
Martins Karsums had 1 shot and 3 hits in 12:55. He also was stopped in the shootout session.
Blair Jones notched a rebound goal and was +1 in 12:42 with 1 shot, 3 hits, and 1 blocked shot. He also was stopped in the shootout session. Tocchet moved Jones over to right wing with Halpern and Miller, which is ostensibly two-thirds of the likely third line. It was a good opportunity for Jones and he did pretty well with it.
Matt Lashoff was +1 with 1 shot and 1 blocked shot in 18:36. No hits? Matt, brother, do you read the website? We need to see some jam, my friend.
Richard Panik had 1 shot and 1 hit in 15:00. I find it fascinating he got more shifts and more ice time than guys like Tyrell and Karsums who are closer to the NHL, particularly on the power play. They have sky high hopes for this young man, clearly.
Oh, yeah. Victor Hedman? 27:15 in his first NHL preseason game. Are you kidding? 2 penalty minutes, 1 shot, and 1 blocked shot. That's unbelievable, really.
The Tampa Bay Lightning take the ice Wednesday night in Dallas, TX for their first pre-season game against the Dallas Stars. Five of BoltProspects' Top 7 ranked prospects, including the top three ranked prospects, will help kick off the Lightning's 2009-10 hockey season. Highlighting the Tampa roster will be 2009 #2 overall pick, Swedish blueline phenom Victor Hedman. Hedman will be joined by fellow 2009 draftees Richard Panik and Jaroslav Janus. Forwards Steve Downie and Dana Tyrell along with defenseman Matt Lashoff round out the remaining top prospects that will be showcased in tonight's opener. Forwards Blair Jones, Martins Karsums, and Paul Szczechura represent three more Top 20 prospects that are fighting for roster spots on the Lightning's bottom lines with overagers Drew Miller and Zenon Konopka.
The expected forward lines for Wednesday's game are:
Joining Lashoff and Hedman on the blueline are newcomers David Hale and Kurtis Foster along with former prospects Matt Smaby and Mike Lundin. Joining Janus in net is 2009 free agent acquisition Antero Niittymaki.