Quick and painless … Some gameday thoughts as the Lightning pay a visit to the Montreal Canadiens tonight.
Hedman Out, Thanks to Chris Neil
Looks like Victor Hedman will miss at least tonight’s game with a mild concussion after a questionable hit from Ottawa’s Chris Neil on Thursday night.
I don’t care if the hit was legal or not – and, from the looks of it to me, it should have at least been called a charge – Neil hurt Hedman and, for that, as Zenon Konopka said, “He will have to face repercussions.”
April 8th in Tampa is officially circled on the calendar.
But, you know what? Come Ottawa’s next visit to the St. Pete Times Forum, let’s not anticipate Konopka or Steve Downie or Todd Fedoruk or anyone else going after Neil. Let’s let Hedman take care of things himself. He’s a big boy who’s shown more of an edge to his game than most anticipated and he’s been close to throwing down a few times already. Let’s see if he can exact his own revenge.
This guy (you know, me?) says he can though, in all likelihood, it will end up being a teammate doing the deed for him.
We can hope, though.
Foster in for Hedman
It appears as though Kurtis Foster will fill in for Hedman tonight against the Habs and, while the former Wild d-man has been itching to sneak back into the lineup, Matt Smaby still has yet to make his 2009-10 debut for the Bolts.
I’m sure Foster will see time on the power play in Hedman’s stead and that’s all well and good (logical, to boot) but what of Smaby?
Lukas Krajicek may have put together a decent pair of games recently (with a fight, no less, in Toronto against Niklas Hagman on Tuesday) but Smaby brings more of a physical presence to a Lightning defense that, in my eyes, needs to get tougher in front of their own net. There have been plenty of goals scored by the opposition from directly in front this season and most of them could have been thwarted with a stronger presence bodying guys away from the crease. The 6’5” Smaby, who played so well for the Bolts and gutted it out despite a nagging foot injury last season, would provide exactly that.
Hell, this guy took home the 2008-09 JJ Award for Best Lightning Defenseman
! How about a shot, eh?
Smaby did suffer an upper body injury of his own
(probably exactly like the one Hedman is dealing with right now)
while on a conditioning stint in Norfolk earlier this season. Maybe he isn’t fully ready to come back from that just yet … Otherwise – and no offense to ‘Killer’ Krajicek – I don’t get his getting the nod over the big Minnesotan.
Time to Shine, Vinny!
He looked about as close to the Vinny we’ve been hoping for all year in Thursday’s tilt in Ottawa but what better time than tonight in Montreal for Vincent Lecavalier to bust loose and return to true Vinny form?
I’ve been critical – but fair – of the Lightning captain, so I have to give him his just due. Against the Senators, he was an impact player, recording an assist, generating scoring chances, using his body and showing more of his incredible skill set than we’ve seen in some time. But the time is right for a monster performance and, on the heels of the last two games, you can almost feel it coming.
He was better against Toronto and downright good in Ottawa.
Perhaps tonight in his own backyard he’ll be, well, Vinny?
Here’s to it!
Another player off to a slow start, winger Alex Tanguay, was a completely different animal on Thursday and his success has been building of late as well. (Maybe that beauty of a pass to Ryan Malone in Toronto for the overtime winner was
a spark for him.)
He opened the scoring in Ottawa and was effective all night long.
It takes some time for a player to get used to a new team, as Tanguay himself admitted while chatting with Chris Dingman between periods in Thursday night’s SunSports broadcast, and with fourteen games now crossed off this season’s schedule, he’s finally starting to look comfortable.
Should that comfort level continue to grow, Tanguay’s personal success will aid the Lightning cause tremendously.
Niitty’s Net … Again
Antero Niittymaki will make his third consecutive start tonight against the Canadiens, as well he should.
As I’ve mentioned several times, it’s become clear that Niitty’s claim to the Lightning net was justified and his numbers (3-1-2, 2.09, .934) certainly support as much.
The Lightning will talk of a goaltending “tandem” between Niittymaki and Mike Smith but, for now, it’s Niitty’s net and it’s now Smith who will have to be worked into the rotation – not the other way around, as had been expected.
Points are precious and Niittymaki’s earned eight of a possible twelve in his six starts.
In-game tweeting via Twitter
is becoming more and more commonplace throughout the NHL and there are plenty of Lightning tweeps providing entertaining and intelligent conversation during games these days.
Aside from myself (@JonJordan
), Tampa Tribune Lightning beat writer Erik Erlendsson (@erlendssontrib
), SB Nation’s Raw Charge (@RawCharge
), Hockeybay.com (@HockeyBay
) and the Tampa Bay Lightning’s very own staff (@TBLightning
) all tweet regularly during most games.
You won’t find an overload of play-by-play tweeting and everyone I’ve listed provides their own unique style of conversation, making for a different game-watching experience.
Naturally, tonight, I might be more quiet than usual, as it looks like I’ll begin tonight’s game on DVR-delay. Still, I’ll catch up at some point and perhaps I’ll catch you in the Twitterverse.
Enjoy the game!
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