Share with your Friends

Posted On Saturday, 03.24.2012 / 1:24 PM

By Lonnie Herman - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Slumping Lightning close homestand against Islanders

TAMPA -- When the Lightning unpacked their bags and settled in at home 14 days ago, they had some serious hopes of making the playoffs. Now, heading into the final game of their season-long, seven-game homestand against the New York Islanders on Saturday night, they are perilously closer to falling into the Eastern Conference cellar rather than finding the postseason.

Going 2-4-0 is not how Tampa Bay hoped this series of games would play out, and they are now a mere two points ahead of the Islanders and the Montreal Canadiens at the bottom of the standings.

To make matters more difficult for the Lightning, New York arrives in the midst of a minor revival, seeking their first three-game win streak since Jan. 17-21. They have racked up consecutive road wins over Montreal and Toronto and are 3-1-1 in their last five away games.

“Those last two wins are building blocks,” Islanders coach Jack Capuano said. “We got contributions from lots of guys and that’s how you are going to win in this League.”

Saturday features the fourth and final matchup this season between these clubs, and the home team won each of the first three meetings. The Islanders have outscored the Lightning 11-6 thus far in the series.

Tampa Bay will continue to field two forward lines composed primarily of recalled AHL players, as none of the seven regulars on the injured list are ready to return. Despite the depleted lineup his club will face, Capuano still sees the game as a good test for the Islanders.

“Yes, the Lightning are beat up,” Capuano said, “but they still have lots of firepower up front. The key for us is to keep guys out of the penalty box.”

Capuano might be looking at some old numbers; after a brief five-game spurt during which their power play converted six times on 15 attempts, the Lightning have reverted back to their season-long form of 15.5 percent -- 24th in the League -- having scored only once in their last 14 extra-man opportunities.

Here are the projected lineups for both teams:


Matt Moulson - John Tavares - PA Parenteau
Josh Bailey - Frans Neilson - Kyle Okposo
Michael Grabner - Casey Cizikas - David Ullstrom
Nino Niederreiter - Marty Reasoner - Matt Martin

Andrew MacDonald - Travis Hamonic
Mark Streit - Dylan Reese
Mark Eaton - Steve Staios

Al Montoya
Evgeni Nabokov


Martin St. Louis - Steven Stamkos - Teddy Purcell
Ryan Malone - Tom Pyatt - Brett Connolly
Tim Wallace - Trevor Smith - JT Wyman
Brandon Segal - Pierre-Cedric Labrie

Eric Brewer - Victor Hedman
Brett Clark - Brendan Mikkelson
Brian Lee - Bruno Gervais
Keith Aulie

Dwayne Roloson
Sebastien Caron
Posted On Thursday, 03.22.2012 / 1:14 PM

By Lonnie Herman - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Banged-up Lightning contend with improving Oilers

TAMPA -- The two teams meeting Thursday night at the Tampa Bay Times Forum are going nowhere fast; but one team seems as if it will get there quicker.

Both virtually eliminated from postseason contention (though the Lightning are still mathematically alive), the Edmonton Oilers and the Tampa Bay Lightning hook up for a rare face-to-face meeting, their first since Dec.10, 2010.

The Oilers are intent on ending their season on a good note and have compiled a 5-1-1 record over their past seven games, including a 6-3 schooling of the Nashville Predators on Tuesday.

Tampa Bay, by contrast, is limping to the finish line, beset by enough injuries to make a good bit of their current roster resemble the Norfolk Admirals, their AHL affiliate. They are 1-5-1 over their last seven games, during which they have been outscored by a margin of 28-18.

"Goals are like bananas, they come in bunches," Lightning coach Guy Boucher said.

Yes, he has no bananas, and Boucher can explain why.

"Half our team is from the AHL right now, so other teams key on our scorers and can shut them down, plus (Steven) Stamkos and (Martin) St. Louis and (Ryan) Malone are spending so much time on the ice, there is a wear and tear in there," he said.

Stamkos hasn't had a goal since reaching 50 three games ago, and St. Louis has 1 goal in his last 10 games.

But Boucher points out that the team is not just going to mail the last few games in.

"You can see the quality of our individuals; they are working extremely hard," Boucher said. "It's easy to close the books and just go through the motions, but that's not what these guys are doing. We had some meetings the past two days, but meetings are just words; they are showing me actions, and I'm impressed."

Dwayne Roloson, starting in net for the Lightning Thursday night, agreed.

"It's a difficult time," Roloson said, "but we have a lot of guys here now that have been up and down all year and it's an opportunity for everyone, myself included, to go out and play and some of the guys who don't have contracts for next year, and this is a chance to continue playing and maybe get an offer someplace else."

Here are tonight's projected lineups:

Ryan Jones - Ryan Nugent-Hopkins - Jordan Eberle
Teemu Hartikainen - Sam Gagner - Ales Hemsky
Ryan Smyth - Shawn Horcoff - Lennart Petrell
Darcy Hordichuk - Eric Belanger - Ben Eager

Ladislav Smid - Jeff Petry
Ryan Whitney - Nick Schultz
Theo Peckham - Corey Potter

Nikolai Khabibulin
Devan Dubnyk

Martin St. Louis - Steven Stamkos - Teddy Purcell
Ryan Malone - Tom Pyatt - Brett Connolly
Tim Wallace - Trevor Smith - JT Wyman
Brandon Segal - Pierre-Cedric Labrie

Eric BrewerVictor Hedman
Brett Clark - Keith Aulie
Brian Lee - Brendan Mikkelson
Bruno Gervais

Dwayne Roloson
Sebastien Caron

Posted On Monday, 03.19.2012 / 1:39 PM

By Lonnie Herman - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Lightning add goaltender Caron

TAMPA, Fla. -- The Tampa Bay Lightning have signed goaltender Sebastien Caron, and hope to add him to the roster Tuesday, if he clears waivers.

Caron, whose equipment already was in place in the Lightning locker room, has been playing for German team Iserlohn Roosters and if all goes well, will join the team in time for Thursday's game against Edmonton.

Caron has appeared in 92 NHL games with a record of 25-47-12 with a 3.45 goals-against average.

"We'll go one game at a time and give him some time to get accustomed first, flying back here, being back in the NHL and getting used to NHL shots and NHL type of game, and we'll see when we can put him in," Boucher said.

Once Caron joins the team, Dustin Tokarski will be returned to AHL Norfolk for the playoffs.
Posted On Monday, 03.19.2012 / 1:37 PM

By Lonnie Herman - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Injuries led to Lightning's slip in standings

TAMPA, Fla. -- When the Buffalo Sabres meet the Tampa Bay Lightning on Monday at the Tampa Bay Times Fourm, on display will be a case of two teams heading in opposite directions.

Buffalo, two points behind Washington for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, has put together an enviable run at the postseason, going 9-2-3 over its last 14 games.

Tampa Bay, however, has fallen off the playoff trail, going 1-4-1 and dropping three of four during its seven-game homestand.

Adding to the Lightning's woes is the loss of two additional key players, Adam Hall and Ryan Shannon, bringing the total to eight regulars sidelined.

"I have a choice: Either I start crying, which I felt like, or I just look at it like it's ridiculous and just go with it," Lightning coach Guy Boucher said. "We've got two lines of AHL guys, but they work hard and they give us a chance to stay in games. The reality is everyone has got their own pace of development and we want to respect that."

Although Boucher's preference often is to play seven defensemen, usually it's a decision, rather than a mandate.

"I've got no choice," Boucher said. "I don't have 12 forwards. Let's not kid ourselves."

Twelve forwards or not, Monday's task appears to be a formidable one for the Lightning.

"We know what's going on," Boucher said. "They're on a high, they're playing terrific. They're bouncing at the perfect time and they're making a push and their game doesn't have any fog right now. They have speed and scoring ability on each line. Goaltender is playing incredible. They are one of the top teams in the League right now in terms of performance."

If Boucher looks at the Buffalo bench with some envy, he might be forgiven; earlier in the month the Lightning were just two points from the eighth spot, which is precisely where Buffalo is now.

"It's extremely frustrating to be right there and then lose all these guys," Boucher said. "It's very tough, but they have been handling it like men and it will pay off."

For Tampa Bay, though, the pay-off will have to be in the future.

"We all understand where we are," said forward Martin St. Louis. "When you are in the heart of the season and things happen, I think you're counted on as veteran leadership, but when it comes down to this sort of do-or-die situation, you have to look at yourself and see what you can do to pull us an inch closer. If you're waiting to look at somebody all the time, it's not going to happen."

The Sabres, on the other hand, are focused on what they have to do to make the playoffs and have gotten some breaks going their way, especially Sunday, when Winnipeg, with whom they currently are tied, and Washington, who they trail, both lost.

"There's always pressure making the playoffs, but we got a break last night when both those teams lost," Buffalo rookie Marcus Foligno said. "That's huge for us. It's about capitalizing on chances and we have a chance tonight against Tampa Bay."

Veteran Sabres coach Lindy Ruff, who has seen his share of battles for the playoff, said, "We have to go game-by-game. We've won our share and we'll have to win more than our share down the stretch to get in."
Posted On Saturday, 03.17.2012 / 2:19 PM

By Lonnie Herman - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

St. Louis prospect Schwartz set for NHL debut

TAMPA -- Sitting conspicuously atop a stack of St. Louis Blues equipment bags stacked outside the visitor’s locker room at Tampa Bay Times Forum is one that looks out of place.

That bag is labeled “Colorado College” and belongs to the newest acquisition of the Blues, Jaden Schwartz. Schwartz, a Blues’ first-round pick (14th overall) in 2010, signed an entry-level contract when his college season ended March 13 and joined the team on the current road trip in Carolina on March 15.

After two team practices, Schwartz will make his professional debut Saturday night against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

“I’m definitely nervous,” Schwartz said after the morning skate. “Maybe more excited than anything, but hopefully after a few shifts the nerves will go away a little bit.”

St. Louis coach Ken Hitchcock is counting on that, and he’s not too worried that he’ll be wrong, either.

“He’ll take regular shifts tonight and we’ll get a read later on, but our attitude is that the more minutes we get him up to speed, the quicker the transition will be,” Hitchcock said. “We’ll get him lots of five-on-five time and he’s going to play on the power play and we’ll see.”

Hitchcock sounds a lot more assured than 19-year-old Schwartz, who admits that the pace of the action is different in the NHL.

“It’s a big difference from college hockey,” Schwartz said.  “It’s faster. The guys are a lot bigger and stronger, the passing is more tape-to-tape. It’s definitely an adjustment.”

A veteran coach like Hitchcock, who has been behind the bench for 1,041 NHL games, has seen more than his share of rookies and is confident that Schwartz will fit in.

“I thought he was really nervous when he first came here,” Hitchcock said. “I thought going from an emotional letdown to the high and then all of a sudden you’re getting systems slammed down your throat. He looked very comfortable during the practice in Carolina and he looked comfortable on the ice Friday, so that’s a good sign.”

And while the rookie’s nerves might be jumping as game time approaches, he won’t get much special attention or sympathy from his coach.

“Just play. It’s a big enough deal and to me it’s about the emotion and intensity of the moment and you don’t want to build it up more than it is," Hitchcock said. "When we’re with him, if we treat it like it’s another hockey game then we take the pressure off of him. He’s going to have pressure on himself and have enough anxiety going, so just play. Jaden’s not a high-wire act; he’s a very responsible player so if he’s going to err anywhere he’ll err on the side of caution and I think that will give him some good quality minutes tonight.

“I think the biggest adjustment is going to be time and space with the puck. He’s going to have to learn that but I look at all these other guys that have picked up speed and it didn’t take them long, some of these kids that are coming in late; they’re doing fine and Schwartz is as good or better than a lot of those guys.”

So far, Schwartz’s best information has come from observing.

"I’m watching the veterans, how they play and how they handle themselves,” Schwartz said.  “You learn a lot from watching.”

Just now, that’s about the only way the young prospect is learning, since his teammates, like his coach, are keeping mum.
“Any advice would just clog things up,” 17-year veteran Jamie Langenbrunner said. “He’s going to be nervous, for sure, playing in his first NHL game. We all remember our first NHL game. The key is to let him have some fun with it. You only play your first game once.”
Posted On Saturday, 03.17.2012 / 2:00 PM

By Lonnie Herman - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Wounded Lightning brace for League-best Blues

TAMPA -- If the St. Louis Blues hope to avoid matching a season-high with three consecutive losses, they’ve likely come to the right place.

The Tampa Bay Lightning, their opponent Saturday night, are reeling toward the season’s finish line, an unrelenting string of injuries compounding their slide.

The latest to join the walking wounded is Nate Thompson, out Saturday with an undisclosed upper-body injury and likely to miss a few games. He joins five other regulars in the training room, a significant figure although at one point during the season Tampa Bay had nine regulars on the injured list.

“Injuries are part of the game, “Lightning coach Guy Boucher said, “but this year, that’s not part of the game. These are circumstances we’ll probably never see again. I’ve never seen it and probably never will again. It’s made for a long season.”

After an 18 save relief appearance against Toronto on Thursday night, Dwayne Roloson will get the call in the Lightning net, his first start since Feb 25 against Pittsburgh.

The season could seem even longer after the contest Saturday is finished, with St. Louis cruising along atop the League standings, three points ahead of the New York Rangers. And as befits a team with such a lofty status, not much is concerning them.

“We’re a high-wire act,” St. Louis Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said.  “We’re a junior hockey team or a college team that happens to play professional hockey, that’s what it is. That’s the best way to describe it. We have fun, it’s loose. There is enough time for pressure once the game starts but we try to keep it as loose and active as we can until the game is ready to be played and then we dial it up. For an old guy like me it’s a little bit of chaos that I’m not used to but every day I come here I keep thinking that this is junior hockey again. That’s the way we deal with things; we do a lot of things that are silly and humorous, whether it’s the video or the meetings, we try to lighten the load.”


David Perron - David Backes - T.J. Oshie
Chris Porter - Vladimir Sobotka - Chris Stewart
Patrik Berglund - Jamie Langenbruner - Jaden Schwartz
Scott Nichol - Ryan Reaves - B.J. Crombeen

Barret Jackman - Kevin Shattenkirk
Alex Pietrangelo - Carlo Colaiacovo
Ian Cole - Roman Polak

Jaroslav Halak
Brian Elliott


Martin St. Louis - Steven Stamkos - Teddy Purcell
Ryan Malone - Adam Hall - Ryan Shannon
Tim Wallace - Tom Pyatt - JT Wyman
Brandon Segal - Brett Connolly

Eric Brewer - Victor Hedman
Brett Clark - Mike Commodore
Brendan Mikkelson - Brian Lee
Keith Aulie

Dwayne Roloson
Dustin Tokarski
Posted On Thursday, 03.15.2012 / 1:54 PM

By Lonnie Herman - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Maple Leafs well aware of danger Stamkos presents

TAMPA -- Talk about timing.

One day after Steven Stamkos notched his 50th goal, the Toronto Maple Leafs arrive to play the Lightning Thursday night at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.

Naturally, Ontario native Stamkos' achievement is the center of attention.

"Special players, you have to pay special attention to," Toronto coach Randy Carlyle said. "You have to recognize when he's on the ice. He has some tendencies on where he likes to go on the ice, but he can make something out of nothing.

"He's very, very confident in what he does out there on the ice. I think he's become an elite athlete. From where he was as an 18-year old draftee to where he is now, how much time and work and effort he's put in personally and the skill-set that he possesses, is all part of him accepting responsibility and developing himself into an elite-level NHL hockey player. You have to give him all the credit in the world because of the approach he has taken and maintains."

For Stamkos, it's more than just scoring goals now, it's about leadership.

"This year we have gone through a lot of adversity, so it was kind of a goal of mine to become more of a leader, whether on the ice or through actions," Stamkos said. "It's a time where I've been here four years now and I've earned trust and respect. It's a great feeling knowing you're part of the leadership group on this team, and I just want to keep learning and helping this team win."

Lightning coach Guy Boucher also praised the 22-year old for his developing leadership skills.

"I've always seen his potential," Boucher said. "He's an extremely respectful individual when it comes to everything, but mainly leadership. His leadership really revolves around how he inspires people around him; his charging, driving attitude, his enthusiasm for the game and wanting to be the guy in the big moments, that's very contagious.

"The mark of every great athlete is to adapt, and that's what he has. His attitude, his work ethic and his discipline have made his actions successful almost every night, and that's impressive for a youngster his age."

Toronto arrives in Tampa carrying plenty of recent adversity. It has been a tough stretch for the Maple Leafs, who are making the third stop on what will ultimately be a five-game road swing, during which they are still seeking their first point. They are 0-4-1 in their last five, 1-4-1 since Carlyle took over the reins on March 2, and are on the verge of becoming the only franchise in hockey to miss the playoffs every year since the lockout if they miss out and the Panthers get in.

"Our job as a coaching staff right now is to get this hockey club in the right frame of mind and win some games to get ourselves feeling better about ourselves," Carlyle said. "It's as simple as that. Right now we're not an emotionally 'up' group. Hopefully, they can bring an effort tonight that is worthy of getting us a couple of points."

Carlyle made the point that reports he ripped his club post-game after Tuesday night's loss to the Panthers are inaccurate.

"I didn't rip the team at all," Carlyle said. "I talked about self-destruction and how we could improve; there was no rant, it was just like I'm talking now, it was matter-of-fact. This is what I felt, this is what had transpired out there, and we are held accountable and responsible for those actions."

The Maple Leafs got some additional bad news as Nikolai Kulemin is out with a broken finger, sustained during the 5-2 loss to Florida.

"It seems like the longer we go on this road trip, there always seems to be subtraction taking place," Carlyle said.

Here are the projected lineups for tonight's game:

Clarke MacArthur - Tyler Bozak - Phil Kessel
Tim Connolly - David Steckel - Mikhail Grabovski
Carter Ashton - Matt Frattin - Joey Crabb
Colby Armstrong - Matthew Lombardi - Jay Rosehill

Dion Phaneuf - Carl Gunnarsson
Luke Schenn - Jake Gardiner
Mike Komisarek - John-Michael Liles

Jonas Gustavsson
James Reimer


Martin St. Louis - Steven Stamkos - Teddy Purcell
Ryan Malone - Adam Hall - Nate Thompson
JT Wyman - Tom Pyatt - Tim Wallace
Brett Connolly - Ryan Shannon

Eric Brewer - Victor Hedman
Brett Clark - Mike Commodore
Brendan Mikkelson - Brian Lee
Keith Aulie

Posted On Tuesday, 03.13.2012 / 1:36 PM

By Lonnie Herman - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Turco makes first Bruins start in visit to Lightning

TAMPA -- With their playoff hopes hanging by a thread, the Tampa Bay Lightning hope the Boston Bruins haven't brought along the scissors.

The Lightning face off Tuesday night against Boston at the Tampa Bay Times Forum, the second game in a crucial seven-game homestand. Tampa Bay, 0-2-1 over their its three and seven points out of the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, may finally see the writing on the wall.

"We are trying to groom our players, not just for this year but for the next few years," Lightning coach Guy Boucher said. "Look at the last two games, like in Washington where we lost in overtime, we were short-staffed and we had a kid from the AHL in net (Dustin Tokarski) and our players basically shut down the opponent for two periods. We gave them almost nothing.

"Same thing here last game against Carolina, same thing, giving very little to the opponent. That tells me there is a real dedication to improving and getting better in all aspects of the game. It's a very honest approach by our players towards not just hard work but attention to details and it has to stay this way."

Until the mathematics completely turn against the Lightning, Boucher will continue to urge his troops to battle, but he also knows he can't keep throwing his top line on the ice for 27 minutes, which is what Steven Stamkos played last game against Carolina, or 29 minutes, which was Martin St. Louis' ice time for that same game.

"We have to score more goals, and yes, we've got some guys who are not here offensively, but some other guys have stepped up and scored some goals lately," Boucher said. "We've been playing Marty St. Louis and Stamkos too much, but we had to. We can't keep this up until the end of the year. They can't play that many minutes. I have to rely on some other guys. Our top line has been asked to do a lot, and they've been on the ice a lot. Obviously, they are out of gas by the end of the game. I have to manage it in such a way that they do have enough gas to play 60 minutes.

"There is a delicate balance. We have to play them a lot but there is a point where I can't go overboard. In Carolina, on the power play, they stayed on the ice for the full two minutes. Usually after a minute I'm screaming at them to get off but I didn't, because we had no choice."

This will be the third of four meetings between the Lightning and the Bruins this season. The home team has won each of the last two games, and Tampa Bay's win on Jan. 17 proved to be a turnaround game for the club. The 4-1 victory halted a seven-game losing streak and began the five-game winning streak that propelled the Lightning back into playoff contention.

Boston is playing game two tonight of a stretch in which they play six of seven games on the road. The Bruins are 2-2-0 in their last four games and their power play has struggled of late, going 1 for 22 over their last eight games.

Marty Turco gets the call in net for the Bruins, his first start since rejoining the NHL on March 5. He relieved Tim Thomas for two periods on Sunday against Pittsburgh, allowing 2 goals while facing 22 shots.
Here's how the lineups project for tonight's game:


Milan Lucic - David Krejci - Tyler Seguin
Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - Jordan Caron
Daniel Paille - Chris Kelly - Brian Rolston
Lane MacDermid - Gregory Campbell - Shawn Thornton

Zdeno Chara - Johnny Boychuk
Dennis Seidenberg - Joe Corvo
Andrew Ference - Adam McQuaid

Marty Turco
Tim Thomas

Martin St. Louis - Steven Stamkos - Teddy Purcell
Ryan Malone - Tom Pyatt - Brett Connolly
Tim Wallace - Adam Hall - Nate Thompson
Ryan Shannon - JT Wyman

Eric Brewer - Victor Hedman
Brett Clark - Mike Commodore
Brendan Mikkelson - Brian Lee
Keith Aulie

Dustin Tokarski
Dwayne Roloson
Posted On Saturday, 03.10.2012 / 2:00 PM

By Lonnie Herman - Correspondent / - At the Rink blog

Lightning's Connolly OK, moving on after hit

TAMPA -- Two days after taking a hit to the head that resulted in a three-game suspension for Washington Capitals defenseman Mike Green, Tampa Bay Lightning forward Brett Connolly showed no ill effects and bore no ill will.

“Obviously it wasn’t the best of hits and the League did what it needed to,” Connolly said. “They are cracking down on those hits. It’s a fine line. You want to finish your checks but at the same time you know that they are watching and you have to be careful with where your hands and elbows are. You have to be cautious with the person you’re hitting. Players are getting better with it but it’s a tough play. That was a hockey play that maybe went over the line a little bit.”

The hit occurred at the 11:03 mark of the second period during the Thursday night game between The Capitals and the Lightning, won by the Capitals 3-2 in overtime. Green hit Connolly when he was already engaged by Washington defenseman Dmitry Orlov.

“I don’t think I feel any different about Green,” Connolly said. “For the most part, he’s a clean player. The game is so fast that sometimes you make a split second decision and it costs you a few games. It looks bad and the League did something about it."
First | Prev | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | Next | Last
Quote of the Day

Yeah, it was a pretty special moment for me. Today was my Dad's [55th] birthday. I have a lot of family in town, so it was a special moment for me to score my first one today. A win definitely would have capped it off, but you can't have everything.

— Sabres rookie Jack Eichel after scoring a goal in his National Hockey League debut
World Cup of Hockey ticket info