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Yes, it’s way too early in the season to make a lot out of one victory, but the Lightning certainly made a statement last night. The statement wasn’t that the team posted an impressive 6-1 victory against the Southeast Division-leading Carolina Hurricanes, it was more about how the victory took place.
If you were at the St. Pete Times forum last night, you saw a Lightning team that came out flat after a three-day layoff. Carolina controlled the play from the opening puck-drop, buzzing the Lightning zone and seeming to be a step faster than the Bolts. It’s happened before in the past two seasons, and, more times than not, the result was not a favorable one for the Lightning.
Last night, however, the team seemed to realize what was happening and took immediate steps to fix the problem. Defenseman Shane O’Brien talked after the game about the players and coaches having a good discussion about what was going on during the first intermission, and the talk certainly worked. After Johan Holmqvist kept Carolina off the board during the first period, Tampa Bay’s big guns took over.
Vinny Lecavalier seems to be on the way to another good week for himself. After being named the NHL’s No. 1 star for last week on Monday then raising loads of cash for his new pediatric cancer project at his poker tournament on Monday night, Vinny has placed himself in the running for NHL Star of the Week honors once again with his five-point effort last night. He also placed himself at the top of the NHL scoring list with 29 points in 18 games. The points race this season between the likes of Lecavalier, Sidney Crosby, Detroit’s Henrik Zetterberg (and don’t forget Marty St. Louis, Brad Richards and Vaclav Prospal) should be an entertaining one for the fans.
Due to the ESPNU Women’s College Basketball double-header at the St. Pete Times Forum tonight, the Lightning skated at the Ice Sports Forum in Brandon today. It was a quick 35-minute workout, with a lot of shooting and scrimmage-type drills. Head coach John Tortorella had an extended chat with the team on the ice at the end, most likely about keeping a level head during the recent success. Center Chris Gratton was held out of practice due to “body maintenance,” which is trainer-speak for “he needs a day off to rest the bumps and bruises.”