All-Star Break Comes At Perfect Time/ TV Line-Up

This is the time of year when most NHLers get to relax, visit home, etc… and the fans are excited to see all of the super stars of the sport in one game, showcasing their talents together. This year the best talent in the league gather in Ottawa for the 2012 All-Star Weekend. However, not everyone will be taking this week to get away or relax. The Lightning has had some major injuries hit them hard, and some of them are looking forward to returning to the ice when they resume from the break. Victor Hedman, for one, said that he is not going to relax or spend his time at the beach. He is going to spend the break working out and working hard to return his body to game shape. He’s feeling no symptoms of the concussion still, and skated with the team for practice in a red no-contact jersey. He said the only thing that he was having problems with was his breathing, so he has to get himself back into game shape. Ryan Shannon is looking forward to returning as well, he has been skating with the team in practice, also in a red no-contact jersey. He has been strengthening his leg from a lower-body injury, and also is re-building his confidence. Ryan Malone and Tom Pyatt are both expected to return to the line up next week.The Lightning leave for the break with 4 straight wins, the longest winning streak yet of this season. They easily could have continued their losing streak and used the injuries as an excuse. They called up Pierre-Cedric Labrie, Trevor Smith, Mike Angelidis, and Evan Oberg from Norfolk to fill in. Not only did they fill in the spots, but they played hard and helped rack up some points. Mike Angelidis opened up the scoring on Tuesday night with an amazing goal against Columbus. His first NHL shot payed off. Evan Oberg got the nickname ‘Yoyoburg’ because he’d been called up almost a dozen times and did not get to see any ice time until Tuesday night when he was given about a minute and a half. These guys didn’t just come and fill in space. They played their hearts out and really helped out the team. Though I’m sad to see them go back to Norfolk, I’m happy that our normal guys are healthy enough to return. These guys are our future! I have no doubt that they will be permanently in Bolt Blue in the future.

Pavel Kubina and Teddy Purcell have really picked their games up. They have stepped forward to take on the slack of the missing teammates and have played with self confidence and leadership, owning the ice and not letting anyone get in their way. Their new addition Brendan Mikkelson fits in nicely, and has not let being the new guy stop him. He has a job to do on the ice, and he gets it done. I am extremely impressed with him. The defense has been struggling this season, as well as goal tending. Over the past 11 games they have shown vast improvement. Steve Yzerman said that in the 7 game losing streak, there was only one game where he didn’t think that they showed enough effort. Mathieu Garon and Dwayne Roloson both had a strong week. In the 2 back to back road trip games each was injured in net and finished the game. Mathieu had his shoulder injured when Stamkos went bowling for goalies. Roli gave us all a scare when he had his head snapped back, and fell lifeless to the ice. For whatever reason the referee didn’t blow the whistle for a few seconds, and the opposing team continued to try to shoot the puck past his lifeless body. When he regained control of his limbs, he continued to defend the net, only letting one more goal in. Personally I think that he was still stunned from the incident. Roli seems to be back on track to being the amazing puck stopper that we all love, and hopefully the past game will give him the boost that he needs mentally to move forward. This amazing save was voted on by Lightning fans to be the play of the week:

The break could not have come at a better time. This gives our injured a week to rest and heal, and our healthy a week to relax and get their minds realigned. All except for Steven Stamkos, who is on the All-Star team. You can follow his festivities of the weekend from his view here in his blog. Steven isn’t the only member of The Lighting picked. Ray Thill, head equipment manager, also got the opportunity to serve in Ottawa. He is in his 13th year with the organization. He served for Team USA in the IIHF’s 2008 World Championship. This is his first All-Star game. He is joined by assistant equipment managers Rob Kennedy and Clay Roffer. They all work so hard, I’m glad that they are finally getting this opportunity.

I may be going through a bit of hockey withdrawals as there are no regular games going on, and The Lightning won’t be playing again until Tuesday. We can keep ourself entertained by Steven’s blog, the videos on The Lightning’s website as well as the NHL’s, and we can watch the events as they unfold on NBC Sports and the NHL Network.
The TV schedule is as follows:

(Eastern Times on NHL Network)
Thursday, January 26 
5-7 p.m.           Cisco NHL Live at NHL All-Star Weekend featuring NHL Hour with Commissioner Gary Bettman during the second hour live from Scotiabank Fan Fair™
7-8 p.m.           2012 Molson Canadian NHL All-Star Fantasy Draft Pre-Show
9:30-11 p.m.    NHL Tonight (2012 Molson Canadian NHL All-Star Fantasy Draft Edition)
Midnight           2012 NHL Player All-Star Fantasy Draft (re-air)

Friday, January 27
3-6 p.m.           NHL All-Star Media Day Presented By Allstate Insurance
6-7 p.m.           NHL Tonight (NHL All-Star Media Day Recap)
7-8:30 p.m.      2012 NHL Player All-Star Fantasy Draft (re-air)
8:30-10 p.m.    2012 NHL Player All-Star Fantasy Draft (re-air)

Saturday, January 28
4-7 p.m.            2012 Molson Canadian NHL All-Star Skills Competition Pre-Show
9-10 p.m.          NHL Tonight (2012 Molson Canadian NHL All-Star Skills Competition Recap)
11p.m. – 1a.m.  2012 Molson Canadian NHL All-Star Skills Competition (re-air in U.S. only)

Sunday, January 29
10a.m.-12p.m.  2012 Molson Canadian NHL All-Star Skills Competition  (re-air in U.S. only)
1-4 p.m.            2012 Tim Hortons NHL All-Star Game Pre-Game Show
7-8 p.m.            NHL Tonight (2012 Tim Hortons NHL All-Star Game Edition)
11p.m.-1a.m.    2012 Tim Hortons NHL All-Star Game  (re-air in U.S. only)

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