Tag:Tampa Bay Lightning
Posted on: June 8, 2011 3:25 pm
Edited on: June 20, 2011 1:38 pm
 

Richards: 'I'd definitely be interested' in Tampa

This much we know: Brad Richards will not be back in Dallas next season. Now we know this as well: Richards would be interested in returning to the Lightning, his former team.

That's because he told the Tampa Tribune as much.

"I don't know what they're thinking as an organization," Richards said. "If they're going to talk to me, I'd definitely be interested.

"I can't speak for them and what they want to do in the offseason. There are rumors, but what do they really mean? At the end of the day, it's what they say if you get the chance to sit down with them."

Of course, Richards played his first 6 1/2 seasons in the NHL with the Lightning, winning a Stanley Cup with the team in 2004. Richards took home the Conn Smythe Trophy for his work in the postseason that year. He was traded just before the deadline in the 2007-08 season to Dallas.

"I certainly wasn't looking to leave at that time -- and I don't think it ever had to happen the way it did -- but I enjoyed Dallas," Richards said.

Richards just played out the final year of his contract that he signed with the Bolts in 2006 and Dallas GM Joe Nieuwendyk said last week they wouldn't re-sign him and were interested in trading his negotiating rights.

It's interesting to note that Richards, who still trains in the Tampa Bay area, was back in town and attended a playoff game at St. Pete Times Forum. He hasn't quite distanced himself from the Lightning yet. Just check out this line:

"If you get the right owner, a general manager like Steve Yzerman, people who know how to do things, it's great. I think we just needed the right kind of owner to come in here. Um, maybe I shouldn't say 'we,' right?"

There will surely be other suitors begging for a chance to sign Richards. But if they can make the numbers work in Tampa, it seems like Richards has a favorite in mind.

-- Brian Stubits

Posted on: June 7, 2011 2:30 pm
Edited on: June 7, 2011 3:54 pm
 

Bryzgalov eyeing Flyers, Lightning and Caps?

We're still a few weeks away from free agency beginning and have the draft to come first, but the rumor mill is starting to spin.

Phoenix Coyotes goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov could be on his way out of the desert -- especially after the Coyotes just re-signed Jason LaBarbera -- so the question is where will he go? His services will be highly sought after considering he's one of top goalies available.

According to a report from Russia's Sport-Express (thankfully it was translated by a Sports-Exchange reporter on Twitter), the leaders for his services are the usual suspects: Philadelphia, Tampa Bay and Washington.

The first two have some questions in net, but the Capitals are a little surprising. They seem to have serious promise with three youngsters in Michal Neuvirth, Semyon Varlamov and Braden Holtby. The other teams, though, have some issues to solve in net. The Lightning's two goaltenders (Dwayne Roloson and Mike Smith) are both able to hit the free market and the Flyers, well, they have been trying to solve their net issue for a few years. The hope is that Sergei Bobrovsky can be the answer, and he certainly could be, but his stumbles down the stretch raised questions.

The other big name available this offseason in goal is Tomas Vokoun, who is yet to sign an extension with the Florida Panthers. It will be interesting to see which of the two goaltenders will be the first target, setting the way for the other. Both had comparable numbers this last season (Vokoun .922 save percentage/2.55 goals against, Bryzgalov .921/2.48) and figure to have the same suitors and comparable contract offers.

-- Brian Stubits

Posted on: May 27, 2011 11:42 pm
Edited on: May 28, 2011 8:55 am
 

Lightning have decisions to make to keep cracking

Hats off to the Tampa Bay Lightning.

You'd be hard pressed to find anybody before the season that saw this coming. It was clear they were getting better, and the vibe around the organization improved dramatically with the addition of Steve Yzerman to the front office, but Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals? That's exceeding expectations.

But here's the funny part. You look at this team and you don't see a group of over-achievers. It was a rapid improvement, but you don't get the sense this was a fluke. No, the Lightning are that good.

The question now becomes, will they be able to stay this good?

This offseason, Stevie Y will have his work cut out for him. For starters, there is the issue of Steven Stamkos. The budding superstar is a restricted free agent this year and you better believe there will be teams sending offer sheets his way if the two sides can't work out a deal in the next few weeks -- you have to think a deal being reached in the next two weeks is the most likely outcome. Obviously if he goes the loss is tremendous, but if he stays, the impact will be felt elsewhere as he is due a significant pay raise.

Even with the salary cap going up next season, the Bolts won't be able to keep all of their big players on the roster. Between Vincent Lecavalier, Martin St. Louis, Ryan Malone, Mattias Ohlund and Pavel Kubina, that's $30 million, or roughly half of next season's salary cap, depending on the final cap number.

In addition to Stamkos, one of the team's playoff Stars, Teddy Purcell, will also be a restricted free agent while the biggest playoff surprise of them all, Sean Bergenheim, will be unrestricted. Same goes for Simon Gagne.

With their midseason acquisition of Dwayne Roloson, the Bolts helped solve what had been a bit of a riddle for them in net. In relief of him, Mike Smith was very solid. Both of them, too, are scheduled to hit the open market as unrestricted free agents. After dealing with Stamkos, that'll be the second priority, figuring out who will be minding the net.

This season, Yzerman showed a bit of a golden touch so early in his career leading the Lightning, so we'll learn further this offseason if he's as good as gold. The Lightning still have a solid foundation, but seeing if he can lock up the franchise cornerstone and getting the players to fit the mold will be something worth watching in the coming months. The good news is the team does start the offseason with a little bit of room under the current cap.

-- Brian Stubits

Posted on: May 12, 2011 6:37 pm
 

Bergeron still sitting for B's, Seguin to fill in

As the Bruins get ready to take on Tampa Bay starting this weekend, they know they won't have Patrice Bergeron and will instead turn to a rookie.

Bergeron has been out since suffering a concussion in Game 4 against Philadelphia and has yet to assume physical activities.

"All I can say is he keeps progressing on a daily basis," coach Claude Julien said after practice on Thursday. "He hasn't been on the ice, hasn't done any of that stuff yet. We're keeping our fingers crossed that things will start being clear and more optimistic here as we keep moving forward."

He won't be back for Boston right now, but GM Peter Chiarelli admits the team will keep Bergeron's status close to the vest.

So who will fill his spot? That would be rookie Tyler Seguin. The No. 2 overall pick in last year's draft has been a healthy scratch for every game so far this postseason, but that's about to come to an end. From the Bruins blog:

“I mean, Seguin goes into a spot here right now, and we all know he’s capable of making plays, and it’s going to be his first playoff game. We’ve got to give him that opportunity to get his feet wet. And understand, when we say getting his feet wet, you’ve got to give him that opportunity,” Julien said. “He’s also got to show that he deserves to be there and deserves to stay there. And he’s well aware of that.

Now don't expect to see Seguin taking Bergeron's place on the second line, but he will get some ice time for the first time in the playoffs, a little baptism by fire being thrown in the mix starting with the conference finals. No, it's likely he'll play on the third line alongside Rich Peverley and Michael Ryder.

“I think it’s going to go well,” Peverley said. “We’ve played well together in the past and it’s about using our speed and using our assets. I think if we do a good job of getting in on the forecheck and bring a little bit of energy try to be good defensively, hopefully we can help the team a lot.”

The Bruins have had the luxury this year of bringing along Seguin at a slower pace. It was a very unique situation for a player that high in the draft to go to a team like Boston that's prepared to win now. They can thank the Maple Leafs for that. But either way, Seguin will be pushed into action now.

In 74 games this year with the Bruins, Seguin scored 11 goals and had 11 assists.

-- Brian Stubits

Posted on: May 1, 2011 4:14 pm
Edited on: May 1, 2011 7:03 pm
 

Snoop Dogg wears Ovie jersey at concert


Snoop Dogg is used to rocking arenas. Now he's Rocking the Red. Or at least he did.

The burgeoning hockey fan was sporting an Alex Ovechkin jersey at a recent concert in Baltimore. You know your sport is picking up in popularity when Snoop is hopping on board.

It's not uncommon for artists to play to the local fans and wear a jersey of the local team. But it's still cool to see somebody from the rap world going with a hockey sweater instead of, say, a Ravens jersey.

It's not his first dip into hockey, either. In the last year or two he's made multiple appearances around the sport, including going to a Ducks game because his son wanted to. Heck, he's even tried playing.

And who can forget when Snoop Doggy Dogg -- as he was known then -- sported a Mario Lemieux jersey in the Gin and Juice video?

Yes, it's Beautiful to see Snoop Dogg getting closer to hockey. It's great to see him in the jersey of one of Amerikaz Most Wanted because he's Dropping it Like it's Hot. OK, we'll stop.

-- Brian Stubits

-- Photo courtesy of Andy Hsu

Posted on: April 30, 2011 7:31 pm
Edited on: May 1, 2011 5:32 pm
 

Lightning's Gagne, Kubina to miss Game 2

Tampa Bay's Game 1 victory in Washington came with a hefty price.

Winger Simon Gagne and defenseman Pavel Kubina will miss Sunday's Game 2 and are listed as day to day after taking hard hits two days prior. Particularly scary was Gagne's fall as he stayed down a while, leading the stretcher to come out onto the ice. In the end it wasn't needed, but that didn't make the moment less frightening. Kubina was checked into the end boards by Jason Chimera in the second period.

“I remember everything, I remember the hit,” Gagne told The Tampa Tribune  on Sunday. “It looked a lot worse than people think. I felt good yesterday and I feel good today, too. And we’ll go day by day.”

Lightning coach Guy Boucher said at Sunday's morning skate that both could be back soon.

"Right now, my understanding from the doctors is it's day to day," Boucher said (via nhl.com ). "There's a possibility maybe for one of them for Tuesday, maybe for both. It's really day to day."

Kubina will be replaced by Randy Jones, who himself is coming back from injury. Blair Jones will dress in place of Gagne.

Tampa Bay has already achieved what it would have liked, getting at least one game in D.C. before returning home. As much as the Bolts would like to take a 2-0 lead, that first win might have bought them just a little bit of room to play things safe, not rush anybody back. Plus, they already showed they can win without either Gagne or Kubina.

-- Brian Stubits

Posted on: April 29, 2011 9:56 pm
Edited on: April 29, 2011 10:33 pm
 

Chalk one up for 'underdog' Lightning

All Tampa Bay coach Guy Boucher wanted to tell everybody about this series is that it’s his team that’s the underdog, David to the Capitals’ Goliath. Classic mind games being played by a rookie head coach.

"If they don't win, it's a failure," Boucher said before Game 1. "It's Goliath against David. That's what it is. We'd better get our slingshots ready."

Not sure anybody’s buying it. I’m certainly not. The Bolts have players, they have talent, and they seem to have finally solved their goalie riddle with the ageless wonder Dwayne Roloson . Let us remind you the Lightning, despite being the fifth seed, only finished four points behind Washington this season.

Hardly the stuff of fairy tales.

He wasn't willing to concede much after the game, either.

"We won the game, but there's going to be a lot of work ahead. And we know that team is going to come out flying next game and take it to us, like they did the rest of the teams," Boucher said.

But if the Lightning are David, then – to mix classic stories – they might be the little engine that could. And we really do mean little.

The team not only boasts diminutive Hart finalist Martin St. Louis -- 5-feet-8 off skates -- but had to play the majority of Game 1 short, with just 10 forwards. That’s because Simon Gagne left early in the first period and didn’t return after a hard fall to the ice after a hit from Scott Hannan . The Bolts later took a loss to the blue line when Pavel Kubina left and didn't come back.

"We were going through a lot of short shifts, 15-20 second-shifts. It was very exhausting for our guys," Boucher said. "Especially with back-to-back games coming up at home on Tuesday and Wednesday, it's going to be tough."

It didn’t matter. Tampa Bay was good enough -- and a little lucky -- to win its fourth game in a row, taking a 1-0 lead on the Capitals.  It was also the Lightning’s fourth consecutive road playoff win. Not too shabby.

The luck, you ask? Check out Steve Downie's goal . It qualifies in the fluke variety. With the Lightning catching the Caps on a line change, Downie chased down a puck to the right of the cage and just tried to backhand it across the crease, but the pass was intercepted by Hannan. That's when fortune struck as the puck redirected right on goal and over the shoulder of Michal Neuvirth for the game-tying score.

But Boucher is right about one thing. There is a ton of pressure on the Capitals to win. Bruce Boudreau’s future behind the bench could be on the line with Washington’s run this year.

The fans in Verizon Center know it, too. On more than one occasion the locals showed their restlessness, jeering the Caps with boos both at the end of the second period and during an anemic third-period power play.

Boudreau wasn't too pleased with how his team played either, intimating they returned to the style of hockey they went away from this season.

"You can't play river hockey. That's how we played. You can't revert back to an older day."

The pressure will only mount after this.

We’ll let Boucher use whatever tactics he wants. If it gets to the Capitals and their fans, all the better. Let’s just say if he insists on calling his team David, then let's concede that slingshot is filled with something stronger than stones.

-- Brian Stubits

Posted on: April 29, 2011 7:42 pm
Edited on: April 29, 2011 10:05 pm
 

Lightning's Gagne helped off ice after hard fall

In what has become an all-too common occurence in the playoffs, we had another scary moment in the first period in Washington.

With the puck in the corner, Simon Gagne was checked into the boards by Capitals defenseman Scott Hannan, whose hit lifted Gagne off his skates. The hit itself into the boards wasn't the issue, it was the fall as Gagne came down and smacked his head on the ice, staying down for a few minutes.

The stretcher was brought out but eventually Gagne got up with help and skated off the ice. It's worth noting that on his way toward the bench, Hannan came over and gave Gagne an encouragement tap.

Tampa Bay entered the game with only 11 forwards suited up for Game 1, going with seven defensemen. Well, Gagne is surely done for the night, so the Lightning will have to endure longer shifts and more ice time.

If Gagne was concussed -- and it's hard to imagine he wasn't after seeing him on the ice -- it could keep him out for the rest of the postseason. He has a history of concussions, taking one in 2007 while with the Flyers.

Gagne scored 17 goals and had 23 assists this season for Tampa Bay, his first. In the first-round win over the Penguins, he had two goals and five assists with a plus-2.

UPDATE (7:50 p.m.): The Lightning say Gagne is alert and being evaluated by the team doctors. At this point, his status is undetermined.

UPDATE (8:20 p.m.): A team spokesperson says Gagne will not return for the rest of Game 1.

-- Brian Stubits


 
 
 
 
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