Kukla's Korner Hockey
from John Romano of the St. Petersburg Times,
You see Tampa Bay beat Toronto 6-4 and you begin to believe the worst is finally in the past and the future is closer than you ever imagined.
For the first time in a long while, the Lightning has direction. Not like last season, when confusion was everywhere. And not like the first few months of this season, when confusion was upgraded to chaos.
The Lightning has gone 12-9-2 since Dec. 23. Maybe that doesn’t translate into Stanley Cup fever, but it’s the franchise’s best 23-game stretch since the end of 2006-07.
After all this time, a plan is in place. An honest evaluation of assets and liabilities has been made. And the remaking of the Lightning brand is under way.
from Rob Longley of the Toronto Sun,
Despite mutually miserable seasons, however, the two teams which entered the contest 10 and 13 points out of the Eastern Conference playoff picture, respectively, are worlds apart in other ways.
The Leafs, as we are reminded regularly by coach Ron Wilson and president Brian Burke, are looking far beyond this spring, enjoying the benefit of never having to worry about selling tickets.
The Bolts, as embattled interim head coach Rick Tocchet made clear yesterday, have no such free pass.
“I don’t care who you have on your team, if you don’t win, you’re not going to bring people in,” Tocchet said. “We’re in a market here where we have to at least compete.
“The fans want to see us win, that’s the bottom line.”
As league issues go, that bottom line is becoming particularly gruesome in these economic times, particularly for NHL teams in southern locales.
from Erik Erlendsson of Bolts Report,
Marty St. Louis’ name has popped up in relation to the Pittsburgh Penguins.
It’s not the first time St. Louis and the Penguins have been linked as Pittsburgh is trying to find somebody consistent to play on a line with Sidney Crosby. Marty would probably be a good fit with Crosby because he works hard every shift, can chase down pucks and works well in the corners. The name mentioned as coming back is defenseman Ryan Whitney. But here’s the thing, if the Lightning think Whitney is the No. 1 defenseman they need, it’s just not the case.
Now, if the deal was Whitney and Jordan Staal, maybe you think about it from the Lightning’s perspective. Otherwise, you don’t trade the heart and soul of this team
TAMPA BAY – Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Mike Smith is suffering from post-concussion syndrome but is expected to return to the ice within the next week. The original injury dates back several weeks, although Smith started to be concerned about symptoms after the team’s game against the Philadelphia Flyers on Jan. 30.
“We were hopeful that Mike’s symptoms would clear sooner and they haven’t, so were taking a conservative approach with him making sure he is 100 percent before he returns to the ice,” Lightning Executive Vice President & General Manager Brian Lawton said. “Although Mike would prefer to be skating and playing right now the appropriate course of action is to err on the safe side.”
via the Carolina Hurricanes,
RALEIGH, NC— Jim Rutherford, President and General Manager of the National Hockey League’s Carolina Hurricanes, today announced that the team has acquired left wing Jussi Jokinen from Tampa Bay in exchange for Wade Brookbank, Josef Melichar and Carolina’s fourth-round draft pick in 2009. Jokinen will be available for the Hurricanes’ game tonight against the Phoenix Coyotes at Jobing.com Arena in Glendale, AZ.
“Jussi is a skilled, two-positional player that can be used in all situations,” said Rutherford. “He will add depth to our team at an important time of the season.”
from Damian Cristodero of the St. Petersburg Times,
General manager Brian Lawton scolded his players for failing to back up C Vinny Lecavalier on Tuesday after he fought Islanders tough guy Tim Jackman in defense of a teammate.
“I was extremely, extremely disappointed with our players,” Lawton said Wednesday. “Vinny did the most noble thing he could do in his position outside of scoring, which is stand up for the team, and the team didn’t respond for him. That was very hurtful, disappointing and upsetting.”
continued and I don’t think they will be very happy after the Bolts blew a 3 goal third period lead & losing in OT tonight to the Pens.
via Lightning Strikes,
The last we saw of Lightning goalie Mike Smith he was smashing a water bottle and overturning carts in the hallway leading to the locker room after he was pulled from Friday’s loss to the Flyers. It is unknown if that had any affect on Monday’s announcement Smith will not fly with the team for Tuesday’s game against the Islanders. Mike McKenna, signed Monday to an NHL contract, and Karri Ramo will be the goaltending duo.
added 6:35pm, via Bolts Report,
The team did not reveal until well after practice today that Mike Smith was injured and is day-to-day with an upper-body injury. I tried to cram that information into the previous post.
Smith did not travel with the team today as he went to seek either some medical testing or a therapy of some type, according to general manager Brian Lawton, who did not rule out Smith joining the team in New York before tomorrow’s game and Rick Tocchet has not ruled anything out at this point.
from Damian Cristodero of the St. Petersburg Times,
Two reviews in Friday’s 6-1 loss to the Flyers, both taking apparent goals away from Tampa Bay, were several minutes long and contributed to a game that took almost three hours.
“It can be detrimental to the product when the game takes so long,” Lawton said, adding he would like to see reviews completed in 90 seconds.
“You just don’t want to see it open-ended. If it takes four or five minutes, it is not conclusive.”
Lawton was clear he was not complaining about either of Friday’s decisions and said the league’s operations staff “are the most honorable people I’ve ever met.”
more on the Bolts…
from Lightning Strikes,
Is it better to stick with Karri Ramo once he finishes serving his six-game AHL suspension for leaving the bench during an altercation last Friday, or perhaps sign Norfolk’s Mike McKenna to an NHL contract and bring him up? There is even talk the Lightning will explore trading for a backup or, more likely, grabbing a goalie off re-entry waivers.
The most appealing option for Tampa Bay would be to get someone off re-entry waivers because it would halve the salary obligation with the player’s previous team. A person of interest could be Curtis Sanford, recently demoted by the Canucks to AHL Manitoba. Sanford, 29, was 7-8-0 in 19 games for the Canucks with a 2.59 goals-against average, a .906 save percentage and a shutout. Don’t know if the Lightning would be interested, just thinking out loud.
via Lightning Strikes,
Lightning backup Olie Kolzig will have surgery on Saturday to repair a ruptured distal tendon in his left forearm. The surgery will be performed in Washington by orthopedist Ben Shaffer, a Capitals team physician who treated Kolzig when he played in Washington. Lightning head trainer Tommy Mulligan said Kolzig will be out three to four months.
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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