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by Lightning Insider / Tampa Bay Lightning
Let become your destination for all the latest Lightning scoops. The Lightning Insider will be in the stands, in the locker room and on the road with the team throughout the 2007-08 season to provide you with a positive look at the Bolts as they pursue Lord Stanley’s hardware. Our resident snoop will post the latest following practices and morning skates, and he’ll make sure you’re the first to know when the Lightning are making news.  Have a question or comment for The Insider?  Send me an email at

After last night’s important and impressive Lightning win, today’s a good day to clean out The Insider’s email box. Thanks to everyone who has been sending questions; I’m sorry I’ve been so slow with responses.


In honor of Johan Holmqvist’s strong performance last night, the first question I’ll answer is from Ray, who’s wondering what’s on the back of Holmer’s mask. Johan has one of the simpler goalie masks in the NHL, with the Swedish Tre Kronor (three crowns) on the back along with the names of his wife (Erica) and his children (Emelie, Fabian). He has Lightning logos on the sides, and his Swedish nickname – Honken – on the chin.


Now, to the many readers/Lightning fans/random guys worried about their fantasy hockey teams, here’s the best update I can provide on defenseman Dan Boyle.


According to Lightning athletic trainer Tom Mulligan, Dan’s surgically prepared wrist is healing and progressing very well, although a timetable still hasn’t been set for his return. While Dan’s not skating with the team, he’s working out every day to maintain his conditioning level.


Phil is wondering if the game is faster now than it was back in the 60s and 70s, and if the players train year-round.


Phil, I’d have to say yes for a few reasons. Today’s players have the advantage of all the modern dietary and training advances, so they’re generally faster skaters and better athletes. Equipment advances (skates, lighter pads) also contribute to the speed of today’s game, and it does seem like players take generally shorter shifts.


As for the off-season training regimens, most players take a month or so off to rest at the end of the season then they dive into their training plan. However, a lot of players don’t start skating again until a month or so before training camp opens.


Will is wondering why the fourth line doesn’t get more ice time.


Well, with the superstars the Lightning have on the top two lines, it’s inevitable that the fourth line isn’t going to see a lot of time. John Tortorella uses his fourth line at important times of the game for momentum swings, but the team depends on the likes of Lecavalier, St. Louis, Richards and Prospal to put the puck in the net. Those players have shown they can play a lot of minutes, and they consistently rank among the league leaders in that category (as well as all the offensive categories).


Katie suggested the Lightning go after Alex Ovechkin.


Katie, while Ovechkin’s obviously a superstar and you can bet the Capitals wouldn’t part with him, I think everyone in Tampa Bay is happy with the superstars we have here already!


Gina is wondering how the training staff determines if a player who has been injured is OK to return to the game.


Lightning athletic trainers Tom Mulligan and Jason Serbus are two of the best in the business, and if a player leaves the bench in pain during the game, they do a thorough evaluation in the locker room. If they think there may in fact be an injury, there’s a staff of doctors (specialists in different areas) and x-ray technicians in the locker room prepared to offer a further diagnosis. The players are the assets for the organization, and these guys don’t take chances!


Jennifer asks what the consequences would be if a fan interferes with the game, the players on the bench or a player in the penalty box.


Well Jennifer, the initial consequence would be that the fan would likely be shown the door and lose out on enjoying the rest of their evening! Fans have been arrested before for getting physical with players on the bench and in the penalty box, and it is possible for the game officials to penalize the home team if fans interfere with the game in progress. And besides, why would anyone want to mess with an NHL hockey player?


Finally, Randy is wondering if goaltender Jonathan Boutin is ready for the NHL.


Good question Randy.  Jonathan has really done his best to climb the Lightning’s depth chart in the past couple years and has raised some eyebrows in the process.  His play in the minors made moving former goaltending prospect Gerald Coleman in the deal that landed the Lightning Shane O’Brien a much easier decision.  Boutin has seen his games played in the American Hockey League rise during the previous two seasons and he is on pace to continue that this year.  Right now Boutin has a 6-5-2 record in 15 games with the Norfolk Admirals after taking the number one reins when Karri Ramo went down with a high-ankle sprain.  He has been in the net for six of the Admirals’ eight wins and has a 2.97 with a .913 save percentage this season.  With Ramo healthy and back between the pipes it is likely that “Boots” will see a little less playing time as the season progresses.  The bottom line is he needs to establish himself as a starting goaltender in the AHL before he is ready to come up to the big club.  He has made a great amount of progress the previous couple years and just needs to keep working because Ramo won’t make it easy to pass him on the depth chart.

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