I wait all year for this game. This is the one game where my two teams face each other. It's the one day that I can rock my Lightning jersey around Vancouver and this year I can do it with a little swagger. Last year the Lightning had no hope in beating the Canucks, this year the Lightning have a few things going for them: the team is playing far better together as a team, our goalie Niittymaki has been outstanding most nights and Stamkos is the powerhouse that we had hoped for. Woo!
The Canucks are beasts. And I'm not saying that just because they are my home team. In their last 10 games, they have a record of 8-2-0 and they have a home record of 23-7-1 largely due to the huge homestand that they had in January. Heading out on the road, the Canucks have struggled, batting around .500 and have given up 2 or more goals early in the games against the Leafs, Ottawa and Boston. In the games against the Leafs and Boston the Canucks had to make a strong come back to win the game, in their game against the Senators they never found the goals to mount a comeback until it was too late. The Canucks look tired and slow in the 1st period against Boston, but by the 3rd period they were on fire.
The Canucks have their top line of the Sedins and Burrows that can run a cycling clinic on teams. They are also the master of blind passes to each other that will leave you scratching your head. Their second line is full of speed with Mason Raymond, Ryan Kesler and Mikael Samuelsson but the Canucks need ever more secondary scoring from them. Their third line still can't find it's scoring touch and is really needing a good third line center. And Luongo put on a show in the game against Boston.
The Canucks are without winger Demitra who left the team yesterday due to personal reasons. They are also without two of their top 4 defencmen, Willie Mitchell (concussion, neck, back) and Kevin Bieksa (severed ankle tendons).
The Lightning have been 7-2-1 and are still in the playoff race currently sitting in 8th spot. After a huge team rally against Calgary to tie up the game, and Meszaros getting the game winner. Niittymaki has been 6-0-1 in his last seven starts.
Shane O'Brien makes his first trip back to Tampa Bay after being traded to Vancouver in 2008 for Lukas Krajicek. Mattias Ohlund faces the Canucks for the first time since leaving the club to sign a long-term contract with the Lightning this summer.
The Sedins on Ohlund to the Vancouver Sun
"He was our Dad," Daniel said with a smile. "He helped us and Alex Edler, too. He's a big part of why we are where we are right now."
"He is going to play the same way he always does and you just have to try and keep your head up and watch out for him," Henrik said. "He is one of the best hitters in the league and when he comes at you he is going to hit you. I think we're lucky he's a lefty and he is going to come at Burr (linemate Alex Burrows) maybe."
"I heard Henrik say I'm lucky he's the left defenceman," Daniel joked. "I'm not going to cross the ice when he's on the ice. When you play with him you realize how big a man he is. He has such great timing, too, for a big guy, so you have to be careful. We'll try to chip it in and use our speed."
- David Hale has been recalled from Norfolk and was subsequently put on injured reserve with a lower body injury (broken leg)
In between watching the Oilers flounder on the ice while playing the Avalanche on HNIC this weekend, I was flipping back and forth between the game and a program on CTV called Olympics: On Home Ice. CTV is a Canadian TV channel that along with TSN, Sportsnet and other channels will be airing the Olympics across Canada. So the special was a behind the scenes look at Team Canada, and is part of a larger shows in a series looking at the major Olympic hockey teams and their quest for gold. It's been a neat series so far. CTV usually has their shows available for viewing online, so if I see it up, I'll pass along the link.
The episode on Team Canada looked at the roster selection process, the August training camp in Calgary, all the way up to the night before debate in Saskatoon as to who should be on the final announced Team Canada roster.
When Team Canada announced their roster, and St. Louis was not on it, I noticed a lot of comments from Lightning fans with regards to the 'snub'. Certain Lightning fans think that Team Canada made the wrong choice by not including Martin St. Louis and were rather angry about it. I found the issue curious to say the least. It is interesting being a Canadian writing about a team located in Florida and getting to read about Americans (mostly) talk so heatedly about an Olympic hockey team that is not even their own.
What struck me as interesting, is that the most vocal of the Lightning fans that were upset or thought that Team Canada made the wrong choice, seemed to be not Canadian. There are Lightning fans here in Canada, yes we do exist, but when speaking to them, they didn't think that there was a wrong choice made at all. I brought this up to some people I know (Canadians) whether they thought that St. Louis should have been included on the team, they would acknowledge that he has talent, but ended up with two thoughts: 1. Stevie Y/the coaches have their reasons and 2. Who would you take off the team?no comments
First off, 21 year old Brendan Burke and his passenger in his car, Mark Reedy, 18, were killed in a car accident yesterday in Indiana. As Burke was younger than I am, I cannot even fathom to have my life cut short so early. A loss such as that puts all of this hockey stuff in perspective. His time may have been short, but what he had done was brave and important.
Enemy Blog: Check out Join the Rush for the Brent Sutter surliness meter
We're having a double dose of the NW Division coming up, tonight the
Toronto Calgary Flames. Normally I'd be all over this preview as I watch the Flames so much because I live in Vancouver, but right now, I can't tell you what their team plays like. Their offense is like the Leafs maybe? I can confirm that their defence is now certifiably less douchey. They have broken their losing streak and are trying to make up ground in the Western Conference with the Wings only two points back from them. The Flames won against the Panthers last night, winning 2-1.
The Lightning have won the last six of the last nine games and we're in 8th spot right now with 59 points. Stamkos has an 8 game point streak with six goals and six assists. Only 4 more games after tonight until the Olympics!
- Niittymaki is in net tonight
- Former Flame David Hale has returned to the Lightning but has sustained a foot injury
- Szczechura has cleared waivers and is assigned to the Admirals
The day has finally come:
The Tampa Bay Lightning have announced that Jeff Vinik has agreed to purchase the hockey club, the arena lease and the two parcels of land beside it. The deal still needs to be approved by the NHL Board of Governors, but that is expected to go through in the next two to four weeks. Vinik is paying for the franchise in cash (meaning not on a loan) so the deal is expected to be approved.
The deal comes in time for Vinik to fund this months payroll instead of the NHL advancing the team more money. It is believed that Vinik paid substantially less than the $170 million reported earlier this week by The Hockey News, maybe around the $150 million mark? In the end Palace Sports will be happy to recoup some of their money back, Oren and Len are gone and the Lightning are headed in a new direction.
This does not guarantee that the Lightning will turn in to a winning franchise, but hopefully a hire of the correct people to run the franchise can restore some faith in their fans. And by hire, I mean hire a competant GM after he fires Lawton.no comments
Hey Lightning fans, we may be going from this:
Yeah the coolness factor is getting a downgrade...ok in seriousness, the St. Petersburg Times reports that the deal for Jeffrey Vinik to buy the Tampa Bay Lightning is 'all but official'. Boston hedge fund manager who runs Vinik Asset Management LP in Boston is in negotiations to buy the Lightning, the lease to the St. Pete's Times Forum and 5 acres of land surrounding the arena for $170 million.
Since the Lightning are rumoured to be needing cash advances, the sale of the team before the next payroll date on February 15th is being pushed by the NHL.no comments
There was another game on this afternoon? It wasn't just the Pens v. the Wings on NBC? Because that OT was a helluva 5 minutes of hockey. Why hello there you 3pm start time on a Sunday....
The Lightning played a game where their worst enemy was not the Caps, but the magnetic ability for the puck to hit the goal posts. The first two periods for the Lightning was a little ho hum and far too much play in their own end. Smith was in net today after missing six games with a neck strain, but looked a little slow in net and perhaps should have waited to start until Tuesday's game against the Thrashers.
Going into the 3rd period, the Caps were already up by two goals. The Lightning scored a pair of goals in the third period, the 1st from St. Louis and the 2nd on the powerplay from Stamkos (his 29th of the season) but never was able to get another for the game winner. Ovechkin ended their rally with a goal wrister at 13:34. Lecavalier got testy in the dying minutes of the third period, which would have been useful if there was more than 12 seconds left in the game. But can you really get a game tying goal with 90 seconds left having your checking line out there? In Tocchet's mind you can, though it doesn't seem to work in reality. In the end Lecavalier got tossed for unsporstmanlike conduct after he had some choice words to the officials after being tossed out of the faceoff circle.
This was the Caps' 10th consecutive victory to tie their franchise record. The Caps played without Mike Green as he was serving the 1st of his 3 game suspension for the elbow on Frolik from Friday night.
In other news, the Lightning have sent down center Paul Szczechura to the Admirals for a conditioning stint today.no comments
You heard me, the useless Lukas Krajicek is no longer a Bolt. Woooo! We should have a party! The Lightning have found a way, and by found a way, I mean stuck him on unconditional waivers and then terminated his contract (I'm going to overlook the whole issue that we just waived a guy away for nothing by cap relief).
This useless piece of junk that we acquired in a swap with Vancouver (we sent away Shane O'Brien), and then gave a 1 year contract extension worth $1.475 million, continued to be a useless piece of junk in Tampa. In 23 games with the Lightning this season, he had 1 assist. The Lightning had already sent him through waivers down to Norfolk back in December to take his contract off of the cap.
The Flyers have already signed Krajicek. I feel bad for you Flyers, since if you need a player like Krajicek, you must really be in a need of a defenceman, since Krajicek is shit.no comments