Monday, June 30, 2008

Can Lightning Strike Twice. . .?

In all my rambling about the Rangers, I forgot to comment on the Tampa Bay Lightning. Quite a few weeks they've had in Southern Florida, no?

First John Tortorella is all but fired, but yet it's not official for weeks. Then Barry Melrose - in what was the worst kept secret in ages - finally takes the helm. Torts or The Mullet Man? Hard to tell who will give a more interesting post game interview. I cannot wait to see this!

Then there's a new ownership group. A new nine year contract signing franchise player Vinny Lecavalier for a pretty penny.

And as of last night, Ryan Malone, Gary Roberts, two stray Penguins, found a home. The other Vinny (Prospal) was shored up again too.

Things are looking sunny in the Sunshine State. I don't want to say that these changes will make all the difference. Certainly it is too early to assume and I rarely if ever make good pre-season predictions. But the team looks good. With Lecavalier (despite his goal scoring droughts at times this past season), perpetual and steady Martin St. Louis, and Vinny Prospal (who had a great year for Tampa before moving onto Philly at trade deadline), this team will not lack for scoring.

And perhaps Malone will help shore up the defense, with Dan Boyle leading the way. And if the Bolts can pick up Brian Rolston, they'd be flying high. (Everyone knows Jacques Lemaire's boys play both ends of the ice, and Rolston has put up pretty decent numbers in Minnesota over the last few years).

The only question - the every year it's the same question - remains in goal. Marc Denis - bye, bye, buyout. Johan Holmqvist - the other way in the deal with Dallas that said farewell to Brad Richards. Will Mike Smith and Karri Ramo play tandem, or will one steal the show? Can a goalie steal the show in Tampa Bay since Nikolai KHa-ha-ha-bi-bulin left town? ;)

All this and more - TBD. But to watch Melrose behind the bench, Vinny L in general, and the rest of the bunch - it'll be. . . interesting.

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