Submitted by Ken on July 28, 2006 - 19:34
If meritocracy is truly alive in the Lightning organization, Brian Woolger and Torrie Wheat continue their tryout at Traverse City. I've been to 3 of the 4 games and they've (along with Fuller) have been in the top 2 lines performance wise each game. Tonight the dominated: shots, scoring chances, the scoresheet,possesion time in the offensive zone and they play hard in all 3 zones. Woolger rung up 2 with wheat helpers. The second one was a one-timer blasted so hard you could hear the Feaster suite gasp, then chuckle. Woolger listed at LW, has centered all week. I outlined what I specifically wanted to focus on tonight and this line was one of them since they were productive collectively the first two games, but I could not identify what made them so successful. I was taken with Wheat's play from the first shift and Woolger kept popping up everywhere he needed to be. Fuller is a solid complement, but these two make the line. Towards the end of the game though was a defining moment from Wheat. He had carried the puck 1 on 3 just across the blueline and stopped right in front of the door where the lightning enter the rink from the locker room to wait for help. Our boy Quick lined him up and destroyed him. His upper body snapped backward into the bench probably at about 75 degrees bent back. His head then snapped right and hit the glass seperating the seats from the bench. He went down in a heap & the Lightning brass rose a bit to see how badly hurt he was (looked horrible - never seen a spine bent back that sharply). He was up in a few seconds (didn't pop-up) went up and down the ice a couple of times and finished his shift with a scoring chance about 6 feet to Ramo's right that a D'man jumped in front of. Needs 20 lbs. of muscle, but he's a Productive player tools or no.
That should scare you about the D if they dominate so, but:
We have 5 prospective top 2 pair d-men, no doubt. We can easily feel comfortable that 2 will make it to their full potential abd probably 3 will. Rogers and Egener still may only top at 2nd pair guys. The seemed to have a side bet on who would get the most hits tonight. They both had probably 5 - 7 good ones. Mihalik, Smaby, and Quick could all be top guys. Mihalik played on the right all night and mostly did good things.
There was a good crowd tonight. I'm going to share the wealth and leave room for others to get their viewpoints in. I'm going to sit here and curse the Devil Rays for about an hour. I'll check back and fill in where others left off.