Game Night 12/23: Sabres at Lightning

All I want for Christmas is my hockey team to get the chip back on its shoulder. Right now this club is doing nothing to dissuade its critics up north from the idea the 2004 Stanley Cup team was nothing more than a flash in the pan. Question is, do these Lightning care enough to prove it wasn't? BUF-4 TB-1 Vincent Lecavalier was given a one game suspension for a high sticking incident that was ruled to be intentional and thus did not play tonight. Pavel Kubina also did not play and thus the team went with 5 defensemen tonight. John Grahame stopped 27 of 30 in the game before the Sabres tacked on an empty net goal. Honestly though, it means little if the club is going to provide so little goal support for him. Paul Ranger played 20:18 of even hockey. Ryan Craig played 10:08 and registered three shots on goal. Darren Reid played 7:43. Evgeny Artyukhin, after taking an early hooking call, was the low man amongst rookies with 6:26 of ice time. I hope this team takes the opportunity over the next two days to reflect on where it is, how it has allowed itself to fall so far behind in its own division, and what will happen if they don't show up to work ready to play 60 minutes of desperate hockey on Monday. Game sheet from [url=http://www.nhl.com/scores/htmlreports/20052006/GS020517.HTM]NHL.com.[/url]

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Ouch

This game was especially painful to watch. Grahame seemed to have troubles controlling his rebounds again. Ryan miller should get some credit, too. He had a pretty solid game when tested. Buffalo, like most teams exploited Tampa's passiveness. You hit the nail on the head... no chip on their shoulder whatsoever. One question, though. How much more losing do you think Feaster should take before pulling the trigger on some sort of shake-up deal?

Re: Feaster

I think in retrospect, the Lightning probably should've done more to get some fresh blood on the checking lines. I understand that Jay was working within some tough salary cap constraints but it's pretty clear that "character" guys like Cibak, Afanasenkov and Dingman haven't shown a lot of character while an old warhorse like Dave Andreychuk just isn't up to playing serious minutes on a top defensive line anymore. Perhaps they should've trusted in kids like Artyukhin and Craig earlier on, or perhaps found a way to free up the money to go after a good checking liner like Dave Scatchard via free agency. Water under the bridge now I suppose. They will, eventually, have to shed a couple of guys like Cibak and Dingman. That may have to come about through the waiver process. Afanasenkov might get you a draft pick which would be nice given we traded off this coming year's draft practically in the '05. Then again, all the pundits believe this draft coming up will be the worst draft in at least a decade if not more. But that's not really a shake up is it? A true shake up would mean moving a bigger fish. Now, you can't trade Lecavalier or Richards. St. Louis is probably not moving either. I think you'd be a fool to move Modin and Prospal is not the problem either. A guy like Fedotenko? Maybe. Would send shockwaves through that locker room. On defense? I you could get a servicable and more physical #4-5 defenseman in return for Darryl Sydor, I think you'd have to consider it. Dare I say... Cory Sarich has been underperforming expectations as well but it would be very difficult to get a fair return for him in my opinion. I think everything depends on this next week. If they lose to Carolina on Monday and fall well into double digit points behind in the division, Jay's got no choice but to pull the trigger.

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