Monday, November 9, 2009

The Lightning Weekly Round-Up - Special Two Week Edition!

The Weekly Roundup

Weekly Record: 3-3

Overall Record: 6-9, 2nd in the Southeast, 7 points behind the Caps

Wasteland +/-: 0

Key Injuries: Paul Ranger - Personal Reasons, Victor Hedman - Concussion

Highlight: I’m going with Rick Tocchet on this one. He’s taking a lot of heat for the way he’s called out the captain of his hockey club in the past two weeks. Not only did he demote him to the fourth line he’s also made several comments about Vincent Lecavalier’s lack of work ethic.

Frankly, it’s refreshing that Tocchet isn’t holding anything back. At the beginning of the year he said that everyone on the team is accountable and he’s being true to his word. Several times, enough that it might replace “Together We Will” as the team slogan, he has made the remark that it’s the “Tampa Bay Lightning” not the “Vinny Lightning” or the “Marty Lightning”.

With the salary that players make today the most effective way to get through to them is by reducing their playing time. In Lecavalier’s case there is history that this tactic works. Some fans might not remember this, but at one time a young coach by the name of John Tortorella butted heads with a blossoming superstar named Vincent Lecavalier.

It was exactly six years ago that COACH benched Lecavalier for his shoddy defensive play. In a post game news conference Tortorella went off,

"Interesting. It wasn't the proper call?" Tortorella said. "Let's forget about the backhand turnover that I've seen all year long, let's forget about that. What about the [expletive] effort in the end zone after watching everybody battle trying to keep the puck out of our net? Let's not even talk about instincts, let's talk about simply playing hard. I'm tired of the whining, because we've been patient. So what he says, I really don't give a [expletive]. He has got to start learning again to play with intensity and under the team concept, plain and simple. If he doesn't, he sits. I don't give a [expletive] who he is or who he thinks he is."

God, I miss that man.

After, the benching COACH and Lecavalier worked things out and the Bolts went on to have a pretty good season, that’s right they won the cup that year. Vincent didn’t have his best scoring season, but he did finish at a +23, the only season he was in the + column.

Will Tocchet get the same results? It’s too soon to say, but the enigmatic center is a +3 since the demotion.

Disappointed By: West Palm Beach. I can’t stress how much that town needs a good sports bar. Or if there is one there, they need to advertise it better.

Surprised By: Antero Niittymaki. He was signed as a stop-gap in case Mike Smith wasn’t fully recovered from his post concussion syndrome. It’s hard to say if Smith is still bothered by the injury or if he’s just struggling, but the Finnish goalie has been more than bargained for.

He’s 4-3 and has all but usurped Smith as the number one goalie in Tampa. He just hasn’t been solid, he’s been spectacular. He’s stopped 94% of the shots he’s faced and has stopped 30 or more shots in five of his seven starts. He’s stopped breakaways, 2-on-1’s, shots from the point and shots down low. The off-season hip surgery hasn’t slowed him down either.
After six weeks he’s running second in the team MVP standings (young Steven Stamkos is first).

Playoff Confidence: 61%. A decent road trip (2 wins and five points) is a step up from the previous sojourns away from the Ice Palace.

Pet Peeve of the Week Talk shows on channels that are supposed to be “all news, all the time”. I’m talking about Glenn Beck, Keith Olbermann, Bill O’Reilly, and all the rest. Regardless of your political leanings, those show’s aren’t “news”. They are entertainment. Think of them as the TMZ’s of the political world.

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