The Tampa Bay Lightning have been on the outside of the playoff run looking in until lately. As I’ve said before, being a Lightning fan is like living on a roller coaster. The ups and downs, as every team has, seem to be one extreme or the other. Personally I find it hilarious when northern hockey teams’ fans say that Tampa has no ‘real fans’ or the fan base is thin, or we don’t know our hockey down here. Just because we wear flip flops and jerseys does not mean that we aren’t serious about our hockey. I mean seriously, is that all you can come back with? That Tampa fans are like Bigfoot, we don’t exist?
At the last home game I had a lovely conversation with some fans that flew down from Canada for the Ottawa game. They were amazed with our arena, with how spirited the fan base is, and how passionate we are for our team. They said that they had always heard bad things about Tampa, that it is not a real hockey environment. One thing they learned from their trip is that it doesn’t take snow to make a town a hockey town. Bolt fever is alive and well!
I haven’t been able to write for a while as I have been having computer issues. What a time not to be able to write!! SO much has been going on!! The trade deadline, the playoff push, the injuries… yeah. It’s been quite busy here in Tampa Bay. Let me do a quick recap from my perspective, as a fan. First of all defenseman Pavel Kubina was told to submit a list of teams that he would waive his no trade clause for, and he would be benched until being traded. We lost him to The Flyers. For draft picks. Then as the San Jose Sharks game was about to start, it was announced that Dominic Moore would not be playing that night, as he had been traded to San Jose!!! That stung. I can’t imagine how poor Dominic felt as he was geared up and ready to go, and told nope… take it off. You don’t play for us anymore. Atleast that is how I heard it went down, I can’t say 100%that is actually what happened. The big emotional hit to the team and fans alike was the trading of Steve Downie to Colorado. He had a personal connection with so many of the fans. He was shaken up, naturally, and it really hurt the team. They are more than just coworkers. They are like family. Prior to the game Coach Boucher cancelled all meetings so, in his words, the team could mourn. On the day of the trade deadline Matt Gilroy was traded to Ottawa. No more Chilly Willy as we called him, as he looked eerily like a young Gene Wilder in Willy Wonka. Teddy Purcell is having his best season yet, and is only getting better! And I don’t even know what all to say about Steven Stamkos. Not only the league’s leader in goals, but in points. Certain players are stepping up in the absence of team captain Vinny Lecavalier, who is out with a fractured hand.
The new faces to The Lightning have brought a spark of energy, and have jolted the sleeping Bolts within a few points of the playoffs. With injuries we got to see Baby Bolts from The Norfolk Admirals like Mike Angelidis, Trevor Smith, Pierre-Cedric “Nacho” Labrie, and Evan Oberg. They all did great! I especially love the leadership that Angelidis shows, and the fire that Labrie brings. I can’t tell you how fun it is to stand in your seat and yell GO NACHO GO!!!! While he fights. (Yes, I really did that.) The most recent Baby Bolt call up was Dustin Tokarski who had his first NHL start against the Washington Capitals tonight. The Lightning lost in overtime, but Tic held is ground and, in my opinion, did an amazing job. Think of the pressure he was under. New kid coming into his first NHL start against one of our most hated rivals, with the playoffs on the line. He kept his cool and played a great game. He was called in to replace Mathieu Garon who will be out possibly the rest of the season with a groin injury suffered in the Ottawa game.
We got to see Segal play, he did well. Acquired Mike Commodore is having a nice presence on the blue line but has yet to do anything to stick out to me. (Though I do love the guy on Twitter @Commie22) The new pit bull is Brian Lee. Looks like a little guy, but man what power he has! He is fast like Ryan Shannon, and he’s a puck thief! He’s not scared to jump right into a pile and grab the puck away. Aulie is already becoming a fan favorite with his big bodied hits, and really got the Tampa crowd going with his fight on Tuesday night against Ottawa. He is not only entertaining to watch, but he will be an asset to the team in the long run. Wallace has been the biggest asset so far with his two goals. No warming up to their teammates or getting used to the Florida ice for these guys. They jumped right in and started fighting for the team. As much as the personal side of me misses Kuby, Dom, & Downs already… I have to say that I think Steve Yzerman made some wise choices. He shook the team up and is now sitting on a mountain of draft pics to use up for trade or the future of our team. Let’s take the Commie trade. How in the world did he pull that one off? Tampa got him for a conditional 7th round draft pick. They only have to give that draft pick up IF Mike Commodore plays in 15 games this season AND Tampa Bay makes it to the playoffs. Mr. Yzerman sir, you are a genius.
A lot of fans have been freaking out and mad at Yzerman for trading their favorite player or not getting a goal tender. (Which now that Garon is hurt I kind of wish that he did.) But all they have to do is take a look at how the team is playing now. They went from being far from the playoffs to the post season actually being with in reach. They are playing hard, like they want it. A fire was lit and it has to stay lit for them to keep gaining ground in the standings. As far as not acquiring a goalie, I am confident that he has his eyes set on someone that he will go after in the summer. You can listen to all of the rumors of names that you want. I don’t. The man has a plan. I’ve said it a million times before, and I’ll say it again. IN YZERMAN I TRUST. This is a stressful time of year for the players, the coaching staff, the management, and the fans alike. Instead of turning on each other, we should all be supporting the team in every way possible. I’m not saying to look through rose colored glasses, as I’ve been accused of doing, it’s just that bad talking and fighting helps no one and gets us nowhere. The guys need the fans support more right now than ever. Many wrote them off in December! Then we had our ‘We Believe’ rally and they started the winning streak. They do notice the support. A few of us who are able to stand out with encouraging signs as the players drive in do so before every game. Most people can not. However, on this Saturday, well will be doing it again and we are asking for everyone who can to show up at the player’s entrance with signs of encouragement at 4pm. Even if you aren’t going to the game, you can still show your support. If you aren’t able to come down, tweet a picture of yourself with a sign or post it on the Lightning’s face book page. They are pushing hard to be The Lightning. It’s time for us to BE THE THUNDER.
Dolly Reynolds Dolce
@HulaDolly @BoltsByTheBay (Twitter)
[email protected] (Email)
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