Last time John Tortorella and Brad Richards were at the St. Pete Times Forum it was a very happy time for the Lightning. Fresh off winning the Stanley Cup and heading into the lock-out, things looked good for the franchise moving forward. That was until the dreaded SALARY CAP…..ugh…..took hold of this team and forced Jay Feaster to rip the team apart. Richards was off to join the Dallas Stars and Tortorella was soon off to join TSN and later the Rangers.
Now, 7 years later, the duo is back to exact revenge. Okay, maybe not revenge, but it makes for a much more dramatic blog. Let me get to the point here. There are far too many storylines going on in this game for me to do my typical pre-game blog full of non-interesting facts and little bits of commentary. So instead, I’m going to put together a list of 10 predictions for tonight’s game and then see how well I did in my post-game review. Without further ado, my predictions:
1. Lightning dominate the game but the score is close until the final buzzer. The Rangers are red hot but the Lightning have all the intangibles necessary to beat this team. The final score? 5-4 Lightning.
2. Steven Stamkos scores 2 goals to get him up to 12 goals in his last 13 games. So much is being made of Phil Kessel and how hot he is right now, but let’s be honest here; Stamkos is the hottest guy in the NHL by a mile. Can anyone say Art Ross? Sorry. That’s a prediction for another blog.
3. TSN’s highlight package for the game will contain John Tortorella doing his patented head shake while uttering a profanity just before the camera cuts away. Ironic how that always works out.
4. Victor Hedman has a great game both offensively and defensively with a +1 rating and an assist (his first of the season) to show fans, management and the coaches why he deserves that big new contract he signed.
5. Brad Richards, Steve Eminger and Ruslan Fedotenko (all former Lightning members), will factor into the scoring either on the goal column or the assist column in the losing Ranger effort.
6. Eric Brewer will not have a minus rating in tonight’s game…WHAT?! I know, I know. It will be a surprise when this happens. Someone should alert the New York Time, or Post or whoever….just not Brooksie.
7. Offensive depth will not be an issue tonight as at least one goal will come from an unlikely source. At this point in time, unlikely source is basically anyone not named Stamkos. I’m only kidding; at least one goal will come from someone who isn’t noted for offense.
8. Lightning special teams will once again be an issue. The power play won’t be bad but the penalty will be a huge problem in the game against the high powered Rangers.
9. After yet another shotty goaltending performance, the goalie rumors and talk will be there in full swing. On that note, Steve Yzerman was on the radio yesterday and goaltending was one of the topics. He did not sound thrilled….
10. The predictions I make will most likely be wrong and I will have to suffer in shame as a result and probably cry….
So there’s a little sarcastic slant on what should be a very interesting game. The storylines are there, the talent is there and the anticipation is certainly there. The Rangers have won 4 straight and the Lightning are about to embark on a 3 game in 4 night swing. This game is incredibly important to both clubs.
In all honesty, the next three games are really important for the Lightning. My opinion is that all three are very winnable. Let’s show the Rangers, Senators and Islanders how Bolts hockey is played. It’s time we make our way up the standings and into the playoff picture.
Thanks for reading and enjoy the game.
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