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Written by Dani Toth | 17 December 2009

Wing fans are are more interested the blogger tiff between the Chief at A2Y and Buddha at Hockey Wilderness, to even care about this game. To them, this is a "must not lose" game, and if I was a Wings fan I would feel the same way.

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Enemy blog: Check out Babcock's Death Stare, Nightmare on Helm Street or The Triple Deke

The Lightning (11-13-9) are currently looking like the team we saw last year, which was a team that looked like they didn't know how to win. Tocchet's move of benching Tanguay and Halpern and having two defensemen as forwards ultimately backfired, so we'll have to see what he does tonight. The only positive thing that has come out of the last few games is Stamkos and Lecavalier's scoring.

The Wings (17-11-5) have won the last 3 games even though their team is decimated with injuries: Andreas Lilja (concussion, out indefinitely), Johan Franzen (knee, out four-six months), Valtteri Filppula (wrist, out eight weeks), Jason Williams (leg, out eight weeks), Dan Cleary (shoulder, out four weeks), Darren Helm (wrist, day-to-day), Niklas Kronwall (knee, out four-eight weeks) and Jonathan Ericsson.

It's amazing that they can still win these days with those injuries, not that it will help the Lightning in any way. The Lightning need to find a way to win as a team, the opposing team right now is the least of their worries.

Hedman left practice with a sore left foot/ankle the other day after being hit by one of Foster's shots. He'll probably play, but he was seen limping around according to Cristodero. Updated, see line up notes

Line-up Notes:

Game time: 7:30pm ET on SUN no comments

Written by Dani Toth | 15 December 2009

Maybe there was a reason that this game wasn't on TV.

The score doesn't actually convey the drubbing that the Lightning took tonight.

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The Lightning website didn't even post a recap, no, they posted the tweets that were made about the game. That's WEAK. At least get some AP guy to write your recap based on the boxscore, posting your team twitter messages is just plan lazy or cheap.

So the game:

After a goal from Smithson, both Stamkos and Lecavalier scored in the 1st period. Lecavalier scored on the powerplay no less. When was the last time this happened? I can't even remember, has that even happened this season? The Lightning have a LEAD going in to the 2nd period.

Then sh-ts the fan. Nashville has 5 unanswered goals in the 2nd period. FIVE.

Needless to say, there was a goalie change from Niitymaki to Smith, how did that go?

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Foster gets a goal early in the 3rd to start a possible comeback, but seriously it's 6-2 at this point, anyways his goal makes it 6-3. Lecavalier gets his second goal of the night making it 6-4. Erat finishes it off with one last goal making it 7-4.

All of the goals for the Predators were scored by different players: Smithson, Legwand, Jones, Hornqvist, Dumont, Hamhuis and Erat.

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Written by Dani Toth | 15 December 2009

How important is this game to the NHL? Not very since they are not airing it on tv in either locale.

Enemy blog: Check out On the Forecheck for the only Predators blog I know of

Tocchet is mixing things up again! He's sending a message! He's benching Alex Tanguay, Jeff Halpern and Todd Fedoruk. Wow. Not wow on Fedoruk, but on the benching of Tanguay and Halpern. Apparently Halperns scratch was not based on play but "rather something between player and coach, he didn't elaborate". That tweet from Erik Erlendsson didn't clear up anything for me, just ask more questions of what happened between the player and coach? Oh the drama!

At first Tanguay declined to comment about his benching, then said to the media:
"What is there to say? I try my hardest. ... The team is slumping. I'm a big part of it. We'll see."

The Lightning will be dressing 8 defensemen tonight, with the 4th line being Hale, Konopka and Foster. Lecavalier is also moving to wing on the 2nd line.

For the Predators Pekka Rinne will be in net, who has been strong with a record of 13-3-2 in his last 18 starts. Marty Erat has been on a tear, with six goals in the last six games.

Line-up Notes:

  • Niitymaki is in net
  • Tanugay, Halpern and Fedoruk is scratched
  • Blair Jones is recalled from the Admirals again
Game time: 8:00pm ET, and it's not being aired on tv anywhere!
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Written by Dani Toth | 15 December 2009

Just some quick thoughts about some rumblings and other Lightning stuff

Lecavalier rumblings

  • Last week Pierre Lebrun talked about how Vinny hasn't looked like the Vinny we have come to expect. I really think he hit the nail on the head when he wrote "His coach doesn't seem to know how to use him. It's just a bad fit right now.", which to me is completely true. Lebrun doesn't say that he's gonna be traded like right now, but that Vinny will have to evaluate his future in some point over the next 12 months.
  • Elliotte Friedman then commented on Lebrun's comments, saying that "Lecavalier simply does not trust Lightning management/ownership after everything that happened last year. No matter what anyone connected with that franchise says - number four was available for trade." Gainey even came out at his end of the year press conference commenting about the possible trade talks that he says were made public by the Lightning.
  • Friedman also reminded us that Brian Lawton's contract is up after this year.
  • In Friedman's 30 thoughts this week #12: Know there was a lot of debate about Vincent Lecavalier following last week's column. Don't think any trade would happen during the season. After this year is over, I'd expect there will be some kind of sitdown. If the same management group is in place, he would be willing to explore trade options.

Interesting stuff that is going behind the scenes for the Lightning. The Lecavalier contract was one of the first things announced as OK Hockey took over the team, the announcement was a big show for the fans saying to them that they were going to keep the superstar in Tampa for a very long time. A show of good faith to the fans from the new owners, but I get the feeling that a lot of things were promised to Vinny to get him to feel comfortable to sign an 11 year deal, commiting as a Lightning for life. I think the general expectation would be that he would play for another 7 years or so, then maybe move upstairs into the Lightning office. But now here we are with after completing a losing season, and are now in the midst the start of what looks like another losing season, Lecavalier will need to re-evaluate where the team is headed and if that is the direction he wants to go in his career.

It's not like he can't be moved, I know that teams would want him. Personally I could see him fitting in LA maybe? But really, with the NTC, it's really up to him where he wants to play. Dany Heatley demonstrated that when he got the move to the Sharks this past summer, with a gigantic contract and a move to a team that he wanted. Sure the Heatley trade rumours could have been handled better, but in the end the trade happened. Depending on how the rest of the season goes, and what direction the team may take which we will see depending on who the GM will be next year, those factors will influence Lecavalier's decision.

Will we see him move now? No probably not.

Team Canada

There were 3 players in contention for cracking the Team Canada roster: Lecavalier, St. Louis and Stamkos. How many of them will actually be announced on the roster? Maybe none. Lecavalier is playing in a funk, and according to Jeff Marek on the Kurtenblog radio show a couple weeks ago, it was said that Lecavalier was not high as a favorite on Yzerman's list due to his 2 way style of play. St. Louis has not been playing well either with only 5 goals so far and is sitting at a -5. And Stamkos has just been playing himself off of the team over the last few games, no goals, no assists in 5 games and a -2. So maybe there will be no Lightning players on the Canadian Olympic team? They only have a few more days if they want to impress Yzerman and Lowe before the roster announcement.

The Management

Brian Lawton came out and said this to the media today:

"I have complete confidence in the group," Lawton said. "At some point everybody in that room recognizes and understands that this business, everything around it, is predicated on winning. But as far as my confidence level in the group, I have tremendous confidence in the guys there. They’ve just got to get the job done. They realize that. I’m not saying anything that they’re not aware of."-St. Petersburg Times

But then, what else is Lawton going to say? Tocchet tried the player trashing to the media earlier in the year, and from what I observed, it didn't really work. Not being behind your players probably doesn't help their trade value either. Must have been a slow news day if this was the only thing that was in the Lightning news today.

The roster freeze start this Saturday, so if there are any moves to be made it will be done soon.

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Written by Dani Toth | 13 December 2009

The Lightning were shut out by Niemi tonight and by the end of it, the game was embarrassing to watch.

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The Hawks were looking to come out of their scoring slump and they did ever. Patrick Kane opened up the scoring in the 1st period, followed by goals from Eager and Hossa in the 2nd and Toews in the 3rd. Kane left the game during the 1st period and never came back.

What were the good things?
-The Lightning's penalty killing was good at killing off two 5-on-3 penalties in the 1st and one in the 3rd period. Of course we wouldn't be in that position if the team didn't take so many penalties.
-Niitymaki made an unbelievable save in the 3rd period to keep in 4-0

The bad?
-Niemi only had to make 18 saves because we ony had 18 shots on the Hawks goaltender
-The lack of communication between Hedmand and Walker as they both went to cover Hossa leaving Eager open which led to the 2nd goal of the game.
-This game looked like the march to the penalty box with so many penalties handed out. The two hooking penalties from Hedman and Ohlund in the 1st period that put the Hawks up on a 5-3 should not have happened. There was Konopka jumping off the bench on a line change to go and fight Eager. Konopka didn't even go for the puck, just straight to pick a fight with Eager. And in the 3rd period, all of the penalties were taken by the Lightning for slashing, hooking, elbowing and goaltender interference. They were sloppy and because they were losing the game, they also lost control of their composure.
-The Hawks did also take their share of penalties, but the difference is they won the game

The embarrassing?
The Lightning made a number of hits that were embarrassing to watch as a fan. The hit that Smaby made on Toews in the 3rd looked a little late to me. Toews had already fired the puck, and Smaby still moved in to take the hit. Luckily Toews braced himself for the fall on the way down.
-Nearing the end of the 3rd period, Tocchet send out his 4th line on the ice, in which they made themselves look like goons. The Blackhawks were winning the game and instead of the Lightning just playing hard and finishing off the professional way, Fedoruk takes a hit on Niemi. What? Seriously? Why Fedoruk?
-Tocchet was embarassing for putting out guys like Fedoruk and Konopka out for the last few shifts of the game. Quenville had been respectful to the Lightning not putting up his top guys on the powerplay in the 3rd period to run up the score. Instead Tocchet puts out guys that are going to be physical with the other team. I know he is trying to reward them in his own way and punish his top line guys, but putting out goons when you're losing that badly leads to game misconducts and suspensions.

Last thought after watching the game:
What is the over/under for Tocchet getting fired by Christmas?
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Written by Dani Toth | 13 December 2009

Some days I think that hockey players are my favorite type of athlete and not just because I like the sport they play. When they make a $3 million charitable donation to a hospital, like what Vincent Lecavalier did back in October 2007 did, well it just makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

Back in December 2005 the Vincent Lecavalier Foundation was started after Lecavalier return back to Florida after the lockout. In October 2007, Lecavalier and his corporate partners, announced that the foundation would be making a 3 million dollar donation toward the construction of a wing at the All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg, FL. The money would be for a 26,500-square-foot, 28-room wing that would be named the Vincent Lecavalier Pediatric Cancer and Blood Disorders Center.

Lecavalier, Kane's Furniture and DEX Imaging would provide half of the $3 million, and the other half would be raised through fundraising events, like Lecavalier's annual poker tournament. This past summer, he held a celebrity poker tournament in Montreal, where he received $100, 000 for the foundation.

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Photo from Loto Quebec.

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This past week, on Tuesday night, it was the ribbon cutting ceremony for the Vincent Lecavalier Pediatric Cancer and Blood Disorders Center. Lecavalier was joined by his father, Yvon, mother Christianne, sister Genevieve, niece Madison and girlfriend Caroline as well as some Lightning minority owners. The hospital officially opens on January 9, 2010.

One of the Foundation's primary goals "to create a legacy project in the Tampa Bay community". Now I don't want to turn this post into trade talk, but Lecavalier's involvement in the Tampa Bay community shows how much he loves where he plays. I love when any athelete or person who is the position to give back to the community, actually does.

As an aside, has anyone else noticed that the V4 website has been saying "coming soon" since the summer? This is supposed to be the website that has information about the Vincent Lecavalier Foundation. Seriously, its tag line is "new season, new site", what are they waiting for, the next season?

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Written by Dani Toth | 13 December 2009

Whenever people think Chicago food, they think deep dish pizza. Sure they also have their Chicago style hot dog, which is nice as a change to the regular or NY style, but since I may think ketchup is its own food group, I can't say I prefer the Chicago style char dog. Quite seriously, it doesn't have ketchup on it, instead it has fresh tomatoes and cucumber and some relish that looks possibly radioactive. But what Chicago SHOULD be known for, in addition to the pizza, is their Italian beef sandwiches which is a messy sammie of beefie goodness.

italianbeefsandwich

Enemy blog: Check out Second City Hockey

The Lightning picked up a point last game, but now head in to Chicago to play a team, that quite seriously may rip them to shreds. Optimism for a win tonight? Can't say it's running that high right now.

In Chi-town the fans begin to worry about the lack of scoring from the Hawks. Sure they have been winning, and firing tons of shots (81 in the last 2 games), but the fans are looking for those shots to equal goals. And this is a team that should score multiple goals. They have Hossa, Kane, Toews, Versteeg, Keith, Seabrook, Campbell....the list is so long, but none of them have hit the double digits in goals yet (though more than 1 are sitting at 9 goals right now).

So the Lightning need to put up a huge effort tonight. I am glad that Niitymaki will be getting another start tonight, since I have confidence that he'll give the Lightning a chance for a win, instead of Mike Smith who's been so much of a gamble lately. Tonight will be Matt Walker's first return back to play against his old team. Let's hope that Chelsea Dagger by the Fratellis is kept to a minimum tonight.

Line-up Notes:

  • Niitymaki is in net
Game time: 7:00pm ET on SUN no comments