Tampa Bay Lightning
The ship appears to be righted and the boys now appear to be on a mission. I'd like to look ahead a year to bring us back to what Jay may be looking at and would like to get some thoughts from the rest of you.
Next season, we gain 2+ million in cap space when Andy and Burke drop off the payroll (I won't count DiMaio since we're basically working around his cap number presently.) We potentially lose Sarich and Fedotenko which closes us in on another $4 mil. and the cap is expected to rise $2.5 mil. Taylor with his hip is another contract to possibly fall, although I doubt it. Richardson and Karllson are $1 mil. that gets replace with other filler. That gives Jay $8 - 8.5 million to play with next season with truly only Sarich's and Fed's spots to fill. However, and I mean however, if we don't make it to at least the conference finals this season, I suspect the PS&E honchos only allow Jay $4 mil to replace Sarich & Feds and other $4 - 4.5 would be untouchable unless we were leading the division at next season's trade deadline.
What a big win to keep the fledgling streak alive.
Marc Denis stopped 32 of 34 shots faced for the win. The second goal he allowed to Kotalik was obviously inexcusable, but other than that I thought he played an outstanding game particularly in that third period where the Lightning were under siege getting outshot 13-5. Vincent Lecavalier, Dan Boyle and Brad Richards had the Lightning goals. Martin St. Louis, Paul Ranger and Ruslan Fedotenko had individual helpers. Ranger, in particular, made a great play to set up Richards' third period game winner.
With his 41st game of the season tonight, Nick Tarnasky has graduated from prospect status by Bolt Prospects criteria. Tarnasky will be moved to the Bolt Prospects Alumni section on the prospects page once we release our Midterm Rankings for the organization within the next week. Congratulations to Tarnasky who played an even 10 minutes tonight. In the last couple of weeks he's finally started to become more than a spot shifter and started to really contribute to the team's success on a nightly basis. That's a 9th round pick folks. The Lightning have given Nick the opportunity and his hard work has carried him the rest of the way.
The Lightning move to 2 games over .500 and will establish a small measure of breathing room between them and Toronto which is getting pasted tonight by Vancouver.
Monday, noon. 5 in a row?
Tampa Bay 10:05, Vincent Lecavalier 27 (power play) (Martin St. Louis)
Buffalo 4:06, Jason Pominville 20 (Jaroslav Spacek, Daniel Briere)
Buffalo 4:50, Ales Kotalik 13 (Brian Campbell)
Tampa Bay 15:38, Dan Boyle 10 (unassisted)
Tampa Bay 6:56, Brad Richards 15 (Paul Ranger, Ruslan Fedotenko)
Game sheet from NHL.com.
Marty ST. Louis and Vinny Lecavalier have been added to the Eastern Conference All-Star team. I thought Boyle should've gotten a chance to go as well but at least Tampa will be well represented.
8th place and 1 game over .500. If they can stay in 8th place or better (preferably better) up to the All-Star break, the Lightning will be set up well for the stretch run.
Johan Holmqvist stopped just 18 of 22 shots faced for the win. I thought Johan was subpar tonight and wonder if Denis will get back in Saturday in Buffalo. Vincent Lecavalier was MVP caliber tonight scoring 2 goals and 1 assist while his linemates Martin St. Louis and Vaclav Prospal had 1 goal and 1 assist and 1 goal and 2 assists respectively. The names on the Caps may change, but those three when together always seem to dominate Washington, and Lecavalier should've had the hat trick on an empty net bid set up by St. Louis to put the cherry on top. Dan Boyle had 2 assists while Ryan Craig had the game's opening goal on a crafty wraparound. Eric Perrin and Cory Sarich each had individual assists.
Nick Tarnasky played his 40th game of the season tonight and will graduate from prospect status by site criteria Saturday against Buffalo. On a side note, I though Nick played one of his better games in his brief NHL career tonight. Torts must've agreed, because Nick got over eleven and a half minutes of ice time tonight in what was a 1 goal game or tied the entire night.
The win moves the Lightning into 8th in Eastern Conference by virtue of their tiebreaker advantage over Toronto in wins. They also move to within 10 points of Atlanta in the Southeast Division. They would've moved to within 4 points on second place Carolina, except the Panthers (who can do absolutely nothing right and need to be contracted by the league) blew a 3 goal third period lead to lose 6-4. Great move running off Luongo, South Florida.
The Buffalo game on Saturday shapes up as another big one for two reasons: 1.) To continue the momentum from the past three games, and by momentum I mean winning streak, 2.) To gain the confidence only beating the best team in the East and one which has spanked the Lightning regularly over the past two seasons. A win in Buffalo's barn might very well get the Lightning's swagger back.
Tampa Bay 4:54, Ryan Craig 11 (Eric Perrin)
Washington 7:01, Alexander Semin 23 (power play) (Brian Pothier, Alexander Ovechkin)
Tampa Bay 8:46, Vincent Lecavalier 25 (Vaclav Prospal, Dan Boyle)
Washington 5:40, Alexander Semin 24 (Lawrence Nycholat, Matt Pettinger)
Washington 10:02, Ben Clymer 6 (Donald Brashear)
Tampa Bay 11:15, Vaclav Prospal 6 (Cory Sarich, Vincent Lecavalier)
Tampa Bay 12:24, Vincent Lecavalier 26 (Martin St. Louis, Dan Boyle)
Washington 19:50, Chris Clark 15 (Alexander Ovechkin, Brian Pothier)
Tampa Bay 3:22, Martin St. Louis 28 (Vaclav Prospal)
Game sheet from NHL.com.
One other thing I forgot to add: Andre Roy did a fantastic job holding his own in a fight against Donald Brashear in the second period. The Lightning haven't had anybody do that against a top heavyweight in forever, and that also helps you get your swagger back in a way.
Did I just hear that right? 11 straight wins against the Penguins?
Johan Holmqvist stopped 29 of 31 shots faced for the win. Martin St. Louis and Vincent Lecavalier each had 1 goal and 1 assist by the game winning goal was potted by The Secret Weapon 2, Andreas Karlsson. Vaclav Prospal and Dan Boyle registered individual assists.
The win moves the Lightning back to .500 at 21-21-2, good for 44 points and putting the Lightning now just 1 point behind Washington for 8th in the Eastern Conference. Next up: a "ginormous" tilt with the Capitals at home.
What a difference a little goaltending and an occassional goal from a checking liner makes.
Pittsburgh 0:24, Sidney Crosby 21 (unassisted)
Tampa Bay 6:11, Vincent Lecavalier 24 (Vaclav Prospal, Martin St. Louis)
Tampa Bay 6:46, Martin St. Louis 27 (power play) (Vincent Lecavalier, Dan Boyle)
Tampa Bay 3:15, Andreas Karlsson 3 (Martin St. Louis)
Pittsburgh 17:19, Colby Armstrong 5 (Brooks Orpik)
Game sheet from NHL.com.