I've been reading a lot of talk on the internet in the past three or four weeks by Lightning fans wanting to assign blame for the struggles the Lightning have had this season. One of the common threads in many of these cases has been to point the finger at the Lightning's junior scouting department. That discontent in the fan base only got amplified last week when St. Pete Times writer John Romano wrote, "The bottom line is the Lightning has gotten virtually nothing from nearly a decade of drafts." Even Erik Erlendsson of the Tampa Tribune has gotten in on the act calling the Lightning's minor league system a mess, only fueling a vocal segment of the Lightning fan base that is thirsting to see heads roll.
Everybody seems to be squealing for accountability, but no one has done the accounting. Much, much more on the flip...
A day after being shutout by Everett 6-0, Prince George put forth a strong effort, outshooting the â€˜Tips 39-35, but it wasnâ€™t enough as the Cougars fell in a shootout 5-4. Dana Tyrell, who scored his 19th and 20th goals of the year, did not participate in the shootout, which was over after 3 shooters each. Tyrell sent the game to overtime with a last minute goal. According to Greg Drinnan of the Kamloops Daily News, Lightning General Manager Jay Feaster was in attendance to watch both Crowley and Tyrell. 2008 draft eligible forward Kyle Beach did not play for Everett due to injury.
Lightning enter All-Star break with a thud.
Ottawa 13:43, Daniel Alfredsson 30 (Antoine Vermette)
Ottawa 14:12, Jason Spezza 17 (Randy Robitaille, Daniel Alfredsson)
Ottawa 18:41, Daniel Alfredsson 31 (power play) (Jason Spezza, Andrej Meszaros)
Ottawa 4:38, Daniel Alfredsson 32 (shorthanded) (Mike Fisher)
Ottawa 9:36, Antoine Vermette 11 (Daniel Alfredsson, Wade Redden)
Tampa Bay 13:51, Dan Boyle 1 (unassisted)
Ottawa 1:39, Randy Robitaille 8 (Daniel Alfredsson)
Tampa Bay 1:59, Nick Tarnasky 4 (Brad Lukowich)
Ottawa 3:58, Dean McAmmond 6 (Chris Neil, Mike Fisher)
Tampa Bay 5:07, Craig MacDonald 2 (Andre Roy, Nick Tarnasky)
Tampa Bay 15:17, Dan Boyle 2 (Paul Ranger, Martin St. Louis)
Ottawa 16:33, Jason Spezza 18 (Andrej Meszaros, Wade Redden)
The good news is the Lightning got Dan Boyle back from injury and he promptly potted a pair of goals.
Plaudits for Nick Tarnasky's 1 goal and 1 assist.
U.S. prep stats as of January 23, 2008:
C/W Matt Marshall, Noble and Greenough School: 20 GP, 17-11-28
Nobles is 11-7-2 on the year. Marshall, a University of Vermont commit, is second on the team in scoring.
C Alex Killorn, Deerfield Academy: 16 GP, 24-19-43
Deerfield is 10-5-1 for the season. Killorn, a Harvard commit, is tied for the national scoring lead among prep players in the U.S. with Boston College recruit Cam Atkinson.
Note: For more updates on Harvardâ€™s program, see Crimson Hockey.
CHL Top Prospects Game
Team White 8 Team Red 4
Possible Lightning target Zach Boychuck had a goal and two assists â€“ one of which came on a gorgeous play where he turned a defenseman inside-out on a rush and cut to the net for a shot which was eventually knocked in by a teammate. Likely top pick Steven Stamkos had a Gordie Howe hattrick (1+1). Game recap.
Lighting prospect results from Wednesday:
Break up the Admirals.
Marc Denis allowed 2 goals on 27 shots in regulation and overtime before stopping 4 of 4 shooters in the penalty shot session for the win.
NOR Lessard, (12) (Smolenak), 1:22
NOR Szczechura, (4) (Keller, Schneider), 8:19 (PP)
HER Boumedienne, (2) (Beagle, Lepisto), 10:50
HER Fehr, (1) (Boumedienne, Lepisto), 9:05 (PP)
Ordinarily, a shootout win wouldn't be such a big deal, but considering Hershey has tortured Norfolk most of this season in a way reminiscent of how Providence used to torment Springfield, a win is sweet indeed.
AHL all-star Justin Keller was named first star with an assist and the sealing goal in the shootout. Marc Denis received third star of the game honors.
Don't look now, but Radek Smolenak has 1 goal and 4 points in his last 3 games.
The Admirals outshot Hershey 39-27 in the game. Now if they can just get Blair Jones back on track.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Our Sports Central is reporting the Lightning prospect Justin Keller will represent the Norfolk Admirals at the upcoming AHL All-Star Classic. The honor falls to Keller after Kyle Wanvig is unable to play due his current recall to the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Keller, Tampa's 8th round selection in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft, is a second year pro and has scored 17 points (8 goals, 9 assists) in 25 games since November 21.
Don't look now, but the Lightning have a little something going here.
Johan Holmqvist allowed 3 goals on 28 shots in the win.
Tampa Bay 0:38, Brad Richards 14 (Martin St. Louis, Jan Hlavac)
Tampa Bay 4:29, Craig MacDonald 1 (Nick Tarnasky)
Tampa Bay 9:17, Martin St. Louis 19 (shorthanded) (Vincent Lecavalier, Brad Lukowich)
Edmonton 10:08, Andrew Cogliano 9 (power play) (Sam Gagner, Joni Pitkanen)
Tampa Bay 5:51, Vincent Lecavalier 30 (power play) (Martin St. Louis)
Edmonton 12:55, Steve Staios 5 (Andrew Cogliano, Sam Gagner)
Edmonton 18:41, Ales Hemsky 13 (Dustin Penner, Shawn Horcoff)
The bad news is, the Lightning are still 4 games under .500. The good news is they're just 7 points back of division leading Carolina with 3 games in hand and Dan Boyle likely to come back into the lineup at any time. Between that and the fact no one else in the Southeast Division seems to have their stuff together and the Lightning suddenly look like a team with a prayer of making the playoffs.
It's a challenge, but it's do-able.