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Impressions of Lightning 2011

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11-18-2011, 10:03 AM
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Oilrider
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Impressions of Lightning 2011

I'm living in Edmonton, but I've traveled to the Tampa area every year, and see the Lighting play a game or two while I'm here. I have a jersey and a hat, and I'm a big fan along with the Oilers, although they are easier for me to follow. Here are my thoughts (I'll try to give the good and the bad) on the experience this year, based on seeing last night's game against Pittsburgh (Nov 17). Topics include: The renos/organ, atmosphere/fan knowledge, ticket sales, logo/jersey, Hedman/Brewer, Goaltending, Goaltending interference/Stamkos, Connolly, the future.

-We arrived later than I'd like, getting stuck on the 275. Ended up hurrying in the new entrance way, and still made it for the U.S. National anthem. I'm glad we did because this is one obvious change from last year. Ray and the organ sure add to the game experience. I liked the idea of getting the crowd to sing part of the anthem. It seems like they are trying to create their own identity in Tampa and start traditions. I love it. The organ is far better than crazy-loud techno music you often hear in St. Pete Times Forum. The music seemed to be an improvement over the last few years, but could be a little less blaring, and better arena music could be used.

-I noticed Dave Andreychuk (captain when the Lightning wont the cup) in the stands during the 1st intermission. Good to see someone like that is still around.

- The fans seemed to be very enthusiastic this year, and the overall atmosphere has improved. I'm not sure they are the most knowledgeable fans out there, but they do seem interested, and I'm sure the overall hockey knowledge is improving in Tampa. Good to see.

- Speaking of fans, we had to deal with a couple annoyances. One fan during the second period, standing at the top of the corner by us in the new area that allows fans to do this, was yelling at Marc-Andre Fleury the whole period. Chanting "Fleur-yyyy" over and over. If it caught on, that would be one thing, but it didn't and it was just annoying. I'm sure he bothered a lot of people, but Fleury wasn't one of them. In fact, at least a couple of people tried to get him to stop but he knew better. I'm wondering if we only heard from him in the second because he followed the Tampa attack from end to end. He wasnít there in the 3rd.
We also dealt with a fan that stood up for every play, and was over dramatic about everything. Good to see the passion, but some things he was freaking out about were nothing, and it gets a little annoying when he shoots up in front of you and makes you miss all the action yourself. If there is a break away, or maybe a fight, fine. We moved for the 3rd and it was great.

- We noticed the people working at the Forum were friendly and engaging. One usher seemed like she knew everyone and after one goal pounded fists with us. This is good to see and adds to the atmosphere. I think someone came to talk to the people next to us in the 3rd, possibly interested in getting them to buy more tickets. They obviously need to do all they can to grow the fanbase. It seems to have improved already, but there is a long way to go before they sell out every game like they do in other cities, and at higher prices (which will mean a better product on the ice, spending to the cap, etc). I saw discounts on tickets on the day of the game, which is not a good sign when you are playing the Pittsburgh Penguins. For the season opener in Edmonton against the Penguins, tickets were sold out and being scalped for $400+ each in the lower bowl.

- I know a lot has been said about the new logo/jerseys. I'm getting used to the new logo although I wasn't a big fan at first. I love the jersey, but would have preferred no black in the numbers (I know I seem to be alone on that), and the victory stripes are obviously missing. Considering they want their own traditions, I donít know why they would drop a good one that is unique to Tampa. I was considering buying a new jersey, but I want to wait and see if they come out with a version with the victory stripes next year. By the way, I love that they are giving season ticket holders a jersey, and the chip inside is a neat idea.

- Did anyone notice that when Tampa received a second penalty and would be on the short end of a 5-on-3, Boucher put Brewer and Hedman on the ice and they stayed out there THE ENTIRE TIME? Unreal. They should have received a standing ovation for their work killing it off. Good for them. I was thoroughly impressed. Hedman is sure developing into the player they thought he could be when he was drafted 2nd overall.

- Vinnyís goal was great after stealing the puck from Staal, and we had a great view of Connollyís goal. It is good to see him doing so well lately, and even without star linemates like he usually has (Boucher had St. Louis, Stamkos, and Lecavelier together).

- Roloson was great, and he was helped by a whopping 25 blocked shots. Now THAT is sacrifice by the Lightning. I enjoyed the Roli chants, and noticed some liberties taken by the Penguins on him. Stamkos obviously got sick of it and ended up getting tossed from the game for fighting back on behalf of his goalie. I wish someone else had done it, but good for Stammer.

I hear Tampa could be making a call up from the Admirals. Likely Tyrell, while Ashton and Conacher stay down in the AHL and continue to dominate. This team sure has a bright future if they can bring that game to the NHL (along with Vladislav Namestnikov). I wouldnít mind seeing Ashton get a shot for a game or two, but I can also understand that they would like him to keep developing in his rookie season as a pro.

I'll be attending the game on Saturday vs the Devils. If you want my thoughts on that game, let me know.

Go Bolts!

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11-18-2011, 10:38 AM
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Great review. Stamkos got tossed from the game because he was sick of Niskanen cross-checking him while he was down. 4-6 cross-checks to the head/shoulders while you can't defend yourself is completely uncalled for. How that ended up in matching minors is disgraceful.

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11-18-2011, 10:46 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zeykshade View Post
Great review. Stamkos got tossed from the game because he was sick of Niskanen cross-checking him while he was down. 4-6 cross-checks to the head/shoulders while you can't defend yourself is completely uncalled for. How that ended up in matching minors is disgraceful.
Good point. It was the crosschecks.

I also forgot to mention that I like what the Lightning are doing in the community, and that Stamkos' mustache is hilariously fantastic.

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11-20-2011, 03:36 PM
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Quick thoughts on last nights game vs NJ (Nov 19, 2011):

-Made it early enough to see the warm up. Players seemed to be in a good mood. Ryan Malone looked like he was happy to be back. Downie tried over and over to hit the ďsweet spotĒ in the netting above the glass to drop it down to fans. Unfortunately, he didnít get it. Fans seemed to enjoy it.

-I liked the pregame videos. For some reason, the crowd didnít seem to be as into it as they were for the Pittsburgh game on Thursday. I noticed this in the national anthem, and then throughout the game, until later when the Lightning mounted a bit of comeback attempt.

- The first period was not the best hockey Iíve ever seen, not much action especially for Tampa, which Iím sure lead to everyone believing this was going to be a snoozefest between two trap teams. I canít stress enough how much I think this is overblown. This isnít the old Devils of 5 or so years ago, and Tampa has simply got a worse reputation than they deserve. Besides, no team can trap 100% of the time anyway, and speed is the best way to avoid it.

-The second period we saw an improvement, and more chances in both ends. Unfortunately, it was the Devils that put those chances in the back of the net. This made the experts behind me declare that the game was over. I think it was their first hockey game... They figured that a combination of the Lightning players giving up, and the Devils trapping meant it was all over. Again, there are ways to beat the trap, and this isnít the type of team that just sits back and plays defense, although they arenít the most offensive team by a long shot. Secondly, the Lightning may be tired, and they may be frustrated, but they donít give up. Especially St. Louis, I love that guy.

-Reffing was bad, but they werenít entirely to blame. That said, the Lightning werenít as bad as people would say either. As with most sports, the local fans seem to get too excited in both a win, and a loss. Itís the players and coaches job to stay more level headed.

- Tampa did that and gave the fans some excitement with a couple beauty goals from St. Louis, and Shannon in the 3rd. They were coming on strong, and playing well but then let in another goal.

- Not sure why they didnít salute the fans, and not a single player in the 3 stars came out, which was a little disappointing for those who stayed.

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