Record: Lightning (13-8-3) Leafs (8-11-3)
The Lightning are back out on the road for a short two game road trip. They arrived in Toronto early evening yesterday and tonight will be their first game in Toronto this season.
After being beaten by Washington and Florida, the Lightning are looking to stop this losing streak, and tonight's game against Toronto is a perfect opportunity to do that. The Leafs are also on a two game losing streak having just lost to Buffalo and Ottawa this past weekend.
But going into tonight's game, the talk won't be about who is really going to win this game, it's going to be about Stamkos going back home. It will be similar to the Lecavalier to Montreal hoopla but in English. As of yesterday, Stamkos is coming in at 2nd place in votes among forwards for the All-Star game, behind Sidney Crosby. As for the hometown stuff, he was born in Markham which is about 35 kilometer/20 miles outside of Toronto which really is as local as it going to get for the Toronto. After really proving himself last year with his 51 goals, he's now superstar player when the Lightning come to town, expect him to be doling out his friends and family tickets for this game.
Also of note is that Stamkos' agents Make Guy and Don Meehan of Newport Sports is located in Toronto. Before the Lightning touched down yesterday The Hockey News was reporting that no have been scheduled as of yet (link below), but that could all change with one phone call. But deals like what Stamkos will end up signing won't happen in an afternoon, so even if there is a meeting between Steve Yzerman and Stamkos' representatives, don't expect any deal to be announced in the next few days.
After just finished reading an article by Doug Harrison of CBC Sports called it's friends 1st for Lightning goalies I find myself disagreeing with whatever he was trying to write in that article. The positive story about friendship is having me question if the friendship itself is what is holding back this duo. The article speaks of the friendship that Dan Ellis and Mike Smith have had over time, started when they were both drafted into the Dallas organization a year apart.
"A lot of people talk about a competition between goaltenders," Ellis said in a phone interview from Tampa Bay before travelling to Philadelphia. "We're not competing against each other, we're competing against other teams.-CBC Sports
Besides the fact that maybe Smith isn't that good of a goalie since his injury, and maybe Dan Ellis isn't as good of a goalie that he thinks he is, could it be that because there is no heated competition for top spot that it is causing the goaltenders to not be consistent? Like is there less of a motivation to be the #1 goalie when you know that Boucher will alternate between the two of you? Does this mindset of being great friends hurt the goalie tandem?
Read more after the jump...
As per Chris Johnson of the Canadian Press and Joey Kenward's twitter, two Lightning prospects, Brett Connolly of the Prince George Cougars and Carter Ashton of the Regina Pats has been given an invite to Team Canada for the World Juniors held in Buffalo, NY this year.
Now for what happened on the weekend:
Capitals 6, Lightning 0
It's obvious how bad the Lightning played by just looking at what the final score was. It's frustrating to see the Lightning have these major blowouts as opposed to a loss by one or two goals because it says so much about how the team as a whole didn't show up to play. Good thing I didn't take off early from work to catch this game.
The Caps were 2 for 5 on the powerplay against the Lightning. If you can't stop the Capitals powerplay then you got to stay out of the box, it's really that simple. Watching the highlights of the game showed Alex Semin camped in the Stamkos spot on the left side for his powerplay goals of his hat trick of the night, didn't matter while goalie was in net. And it's not like the Caps were being favoured by getting more powerplays as the Lightning actually had one more powerplay opportunity than Washington did, they just didn't capitilize on them.
Lightning 2, Panthers 3 (SO)
This game the Lightning played as a whole much better from the one against the Caps. They came out with an edge to their game that made this game interesting to watch. The Lightning had big goals from Teddy Purcell, Dana Tyrell and Sean Bergenheim. Radek Dvorak was pulled down on a shorthanded attempt and got a penalty shot that he scored on.
Something nice to say about the Panthers: Vokoun was great in net for the Panthers during the game, both during regulation time and in the shootout. He really doesn't get enough recognition for how well he plays for the Panthers. But then that gets me thinking that when Luongo played down in Florida and was faced with a barrage of shots per night that he looked like he did well too. But now with a better team in front of him, he struggles with his play. It will be curious to see how Vokoun will fare next year when he's with a new team as he's a UFA this summer (unless he re-signs with the Panthers of course).
This week: Two game road trip up to Toronto on Tuesday and Boston on Thurday, followed by a home game against the Avalanche on Saturday
We have two games up this weekend in another back-to-back game starting with the Caps in Washington today at 5pm and then the Lightning take on the Panthers tomorrow night in Tampa. This morning the boys were busy taking team photos and playing ball hockey in front of the White House. Love this.
Game 23: Tampa in Washington
Stuff you need to know
Puck drop - 5pm
Enemy Blog - Rock the Red
Watch it - on SUN (HD), CSN-DC (HD)
Record - Lightning (13-7-2) Capitals (15-6-2)
The Caps are ahead of the Lightning by four points in the SW Division, so this afternoon is a battle between the top teams in our division. Tonight is the second game we have against them, the last game the Lightning lost 6-3 and more importantly lost Lecavalier to a broken hand. The Caps had a three game losing streak going until they won against the Hurricanes on Wednesday. During that time, the Lightning have been catching up in the standings with our five game win streak.
Game 24: Panthers in Tampa
Stuff you need to know
Puck drop - 7:30pm
Enemy Blog - Litter Box Cats
Watch it - on SUN (HD)
After an early game in Washington the Lightning head back home to face the Panthers. Unlike the Caps who were at the top of the division, the Panthers are at the bottom. The last time we played the Panthers was back in October where we lost 6-0 in Sunrise.
A few days ago the preliminary all-star votes came in, and Stamkos was sitting in 4th place with 78,833 votes. Martin St. Louis was a distant 38th place with 12,852 votes which had Cristodero riled up thinking he should be doing better in the votes.
But let's take a step back and think about that. This is All-Star player voting by the FANS. And let's face it, the fanbase for the Lightning is not as big as other franchises. Or maybe our fans just don't care about the All-Star game. Maybe they don't want to vote multiple times a day (up to 30 times I believe is the max?) for a player to play in the All-Star game. Or maybe our fans are not as technologically as savvy to actually log on to the internet to vote (this sentence is obviously not directed at you the reader).
I think it was expected that Stamkos is doing well in the voting because he's such a superstar now. But as for Martin St. Louis, unless the Tampa Bay Lightning masses decides to launch an initiative to keep voting multiple times a day to increase his vote total exponentially faster than other players, it ain't gonna happen. It's not a slight against him as a player, but the nature of fan voting is that votes are not based on talent but fan favorites and clearly we aren't voting enough to make it happen.
Simon Gagne was skating today without the red jersey, but even Cristodero doesn't know if he's playing tonight.
Enemy Blog: New York Rangers Blog
Boucher on Stamkos from Cristodero's blog:
"The biggest thing is making sure you know where to go (on the ice). The coaching staff tries to help out as much as they can but it's still a challenge to make sure you're in the right spot."
- Mike Smith will get the start in goal
Your pre-game reading links:
Game time: 7:30pm EST on SUN (HD)no comments
Here is just a few exerpts but really the whole article is worth your time
Steven Stamkos and Sidney Crosby have separated themselves from their peers a quarter of the way into the NHL season, racking up points at a rate not seen around the league in 15 years.
They both sat at 35 points through Monday's games — putting them on pace to top 130. That hasn't happened since Mario Lemieux captured the Art Ross Trophy with 161 points in 1995-96.
"All those top players want to be considered the best," Penguins GM Ray Shero said Tuesday. "Whether it was last year with the Rocket Richard when (Crosby) scored 51 and then Stamkos scored 51 as well — I think between them it was a bit of a race. It went down to the final day of the year.no comments
"I would think (the scoring race) is in the back of their mind (now). They're cognizant of it."