Category Archives: hockey

Without a job and without a path forward

I’ve got a conundrum.

In the business world, it’s not a problem really: Long-time veteran of a field of business leaves said-field for two full years and then gets an inkling to re-enter as issues faced personally or an attempt to find a career in a new field hadn’t pass muster. This ambiguous jargon makes it seem plain and simple, don’t it?

It’s not that simple. Not for me.

You can see in a couple of recent blog posts I’ve done that I’ve been touching on my old forte in hockey blogging. I am one of the original hockey bloggers, having founded Boltsmag.com in February 2004, running it independently for five years before being recruited by my long-time colleague James Mirtle (who started his own writing career independently at Blogspot) to SB Nation where I founded Raw Charge. I blogged about the Tampa Bay Lightning and NHL for 12 and a half years before resigning due to burnout (a burnout which also seen as symptoms of a surprising health issue that almost killed me).

Blah, blah, blah… Maybe I should ge back in? I’ve got nothing else going for me.

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The simple truth; 2019 Tampa Bay Lightning playoffs post-mortem summary

They don’t call the NHL’s Stanley Cup Playoffs the Second Season for nothing. Accomplishments during the NHL’s regular season be damned; everything starts at zero, every team starts on an even keel. Every team has a chance.

Game One and the first period of play, the Lightning did what was expected of them. The high flying ability of the 2018-19 President Trophy winning club was on display.

After the first intermission of Game One of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, things changed. The next eight periods of play were rife with… what? I don’t know. It just didn’t come off like the gameplay that so many bore witness to from the club during the regular season. Chippiness, penalties, scrums, and fights. One might put the spotlight on the Columbus Blue Jackets for that as if they were the antagonists… No, no… It was an NHL game and the team that was antagonizing most heavily was the Lightning. Penalizations ensued. Opportunities rained down on the Jackets by way of it.

Eight periods of play – the bulk of Game One, Game Two and THree in full… the damage was done and Columbus capitalized on it with sound play, leading to their own imposing play and victories. Excuses could be made — primarily that chief defenseman Victor Hedman was playing while injured and was sidelined with Anton Stralman for Game Four — but that’s just it, an excuse. That’s not to say Hedman being hurt didn’t cause issues, it’s that what was going on in Lightning team play wasn’t defensive lapses. It was overall team play and perhaps game-plan lapses

The titans of contention during the 2018-19 regular season turned into the also-ran roster of the 2019 Second Season. That’s it. That’s the way to look at it.

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Disappointed by Lightning play and fan reaction

I’m going to go with a simple take going into Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals:

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Another Lightning record: Drawing viewers to their historic regular-season performance

Another Tampa Bay Lightning broken record for the 2018-19 NHL season. The only difference with this one, it was a feat fans helped them achive: It was the most popular season of Lightning hockey in Fox Sports Sun broadcast history. (Damn shame local news coverage by Tampa Bay media didn’t reflect the popularity during the regular season… just sayin’…)

I’ll let the official press release from Fox Sports do the talking. Read below:

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The Great Outdoors and the first Eastern Conference Quarterfinals watch party for Lightning fans

It’s the time of the season for fans to congregate together and watch Tampa Bay Lightning hockey during the 2019 NHL Playoffs. Seeing everyone can’t make it to the Amalie for games (or venues of opposing teams — in this instance, Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio), watch parties by the Lightning are a nice way to do it.

It was announced Monday that hockey fans in Tampa Bay can hit up an official watch party at Curtis Hixon Park for Wednesday’s Game One of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. It won’t just be hockey watching in Curtis Hixon on Wednesday as the rock group Cage the Elephant is also supposed to perform.

Details from the Bolts press release are as follows:

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Another benchmark change is looming for the Lightning in the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs

As it stands, with the 2018-19 regular season still in play, Tampa Bay Lightning history has a total of five players who have played with the club in five Stanley Cup Playoffs: Pavel Kubina, Vincent Lecavalier, Martin St. Louis, Steven Stamkos, and Victor Hedman. All five players were around for the 2011 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs.

History is about to change, obviously…

The forthcoming 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs will be Stamkos and Hedman’s sixth time, setting the new franchise paramount in their tenth and ninth NHL seasons respectively. It just seems fitting that this new “record” is being set in a season with so much record-breaking by the Bolts.

Kubby, Vinny, and Marty won’t e alone in the five-season playoff appearance category; they just didn’t play with the guys who will be joining them in the ranks. Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat, Alex Killorn, and Nikita Kucherov have been in all of the playoff seasons helmed by current head coach Jon Cooper (2014, 2015, 2016 and 2018). It’s also worth mentioning that Johnson, Palat and Killorn were also part of  Cooper’s 2011-12 Norfolk Admirals team that won the American Hockey League’s Calder Cup. Also worth noting is Kucherov’s struggles of 2013-14 (communications) limited his ice time during the Bolts Eastern Conference Quarterfinal failure; he only played in two of the five games of The series.

Of all the aforementioned Lightning players, it’s just Kubina, Lecavalier, and St. Louis who have their names etched on the Stanley Cup. We’ll see if the results from the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoff’s changes that.

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Lightning’s success generates all too much silence in the Tampa Bay sports media

There’s a outspoken and upset Florida Panthers fan who voiced their discontent with the Panthers organization in a post on Reddit’s hockey community. A mix of words invoked nostalgia and made me upset in my own fashion.

[…] At the start, things looked great. The team had great players in Scott Mellanby and John Vanbiesbrouck, took a Cinderella trip to the Finals which got all of Miami absolutely BUZZING in 1996, started a notable fan tradition of throwing rats, acquired a superstar in Pavel Bure, acquired future superstars Olli Jokinen and Roberto Luongo, had very great and notable players pass through here… […]

Ah, 1996! Yes, the Florida Panthers looked upright and had a future optimism shown in only their third season of play in the National Hockey Lague. But ’96 didn’t show a dim picture on the other coast of Florida. No, no, the 1995-96 Tampa Bay Lightning did something foreign in the Tampa Bay metroplex in the sporting sense of the term: They were a pro team that made the playoffs. It was the first time in 13 years that a top-level professional franchise in the Bay area had done that [author note: this isn’t an attempt to truly look pat the Tampa Bay Rowdies soccer team; soccer is not traditionally pitched as a top-four major sports league in the United States.] It was also the Lightning’s first-ever playoff appearance.

There was a sense of optimism and hope invoked in the local press coverage from WTVT, WFLA, WTSP, and WFTS. The St. Peterburg Times and Tampa Tribune did it too: The Tampa Bay Lightning was the sports team in Tampa Bay, and they were the entity to rally around. Brian Bradley, Mikael Andersson, Petr Klima, Paul Ysebaert;  with the future (or so it seemed at the time) franchise ties to Roman Hamrlik, Chris Gratton, Jason Weimer, and Rob Zamuer. All these (and so many more names that I’ve forgotten off the top of my head) and the last line of defense, the stalwart in goal #93 Darren Puppa.

The playoffs! Such a rare feat in this burg was being embraced by a local team and that generated a degree of local pride for sports fans. It was something accomplished by Tampa Bay and invoked such a good vibe, even if the Bolts were a one-and-done team in the 1996 NHL Playoffs  (the Philadelphia Flyers bounced the Bolts in the first round). Contention was such a foreign term and it was finally translated! Yessir! Yessir!

It seems foreign now, doesn’t it? No, I don’t mean contention. I’ve already written about that for the Bolts before this season. The Lightning themselves have proven it, night in and night out, through 76 games and the feats achieved.

I’m talking about coverage and the lack thereof from the traditional media people in town. There is no buzz. It’s not a priority. It’s filler.

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The NHL on NBC and NBC Sports Net needs broader appeal

The following tweet sets the standard for this blog post. It was posted during a telecast by NBC Sports Net and with thanks to me hearing the all-too-common complaints aimed at the network for their coverage of a National Hockey League game.


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Record-breaking vies against playoff contention in the Lightning’s remaining schedule

Author’s Note: I go the wins-in-an-NHL-season record wrong in this piece. The record is 62 wins by the 1995-96 Detroit Red Wins. Research quick results were not clear on the record. The Lightning could tie that mark. To break it would be on grand sports record fe.

16 games remain in the 2018-19 Tampa Bay Lightning regular season and hoo-boy, have those first 66 delivered. 50 wins in 66 games tie the NHL record for the feat.

While a contingent of fans might lock this performance into what the club will do in the playoffs, I warn you not to. That’s the Second Season. Everything starts over for every club involved in the Stanley Cup Playoffs and there have been incidents in the history of the NHL and professional sports in general where a paramount club is taken down with shocking ease by a lower ranking challenger.

Getting ahead of ourselves is not the point of this write-up, the point is actually the Bolts potentially threatening, reaching, and breaking said league record.

60 wins isn’t impossible, but it’s tough… or should be.

To take 50 wins from 66 games played gives the Bolts a mite over a .750 winning percentage. If you apply that simply to the number of games ahead, that’s 12 potential wins. A 62 win season shatters the NHL record and is… just math done by me.  You have to play the games and that’s what causes a win or a loss. Not ratio logic and blah-blah-blah by analysts, columnists or bloggers.

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The storm continues with Tampa Bay Lightning hockey

Ten days ago I wrote my shocked and impressed piece about where the Tampa Bay Lightning stand in mid-February: 92 points in 59 games played.

Ten days later, five more games in the books and the Bolts took every flippin’ one of them. 102 points in 64 games played. There’s more worth noting in that in franchise achievement:

  • 49 wins are one shy of the team record of 50, achieved in 2014-15
  • 252 goals-for on the season is four more than the Stanley Cup Champion 2003-04 Lightning team and 10 shy of the 2014-15 team.
  • The point-percentage of the club is now a startling .797
  • The simplified win-percentage is .766
  • The club has gone 12-0-2 in February with one game left to be played
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Eugene Melnyk and the suffering of hockey fandom in Ottawa

With the 2019 NHL Trade Deadline now passed, fans refkect on moves made by their respective franchises. and what was, what is, and what could be in the NHL’s pivitol second season (the 2019 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs).

Yet in Ottawa, Ontario, the reflection is of the demise of their love for the game of hockey and the perpetual rebuilding of the Ottawa Senators.

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A tweet of note regarding the Tampa Bay Lightning and the 2019 NHL trade deadline

Via Joe Smith of The Athletic, a quick remark about things at this coming deadline (and deadlines in general):

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Lightning strikes blaze the NHL standings and Tampa Bay sports

Ninety-two.

Ninety-two points in February.

Ninety-two points in February?! My God!

Where the Tampa Bay Lightning sits right now is on the cusp of securing a 2019 Stanley Cup Playoff berth, and it’s only February 17th. They’re 15 points ahead of the #2 club(s) in the National Hockey League right now. For sports fans who don’t know the NHL point system (and any fan actually does know) 15 points amounts to 7 wins and 1 overtime/shootout loss.

In 59 games played this season, the Bolts have won 44 of them. That’s thousands of a point under a .750 win percentage. The Lightning is better than that in the NHL’s point percentage department — they’re .780, that’s 78% of the possible 118 points from those 59 games played. That’s better than three-quarters of the potential points.

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Via Reddit: To put the Tampa Bay Lightning’s success in perspective at this point (Feb 16, 2015)

It is damn good and ahead of the pack. Click the title to read the post.

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My thoughts on the Bolts and the new alternate threds

We’re in the middle of the second-to-last month of the NHL season and lo and behold, the long-awaited Tampa Bay Lightning third jersey was unveiled last week before the Bolts were to square off with the St. Louis Blues.

I don’t know about other Lightning, but I was really really piqued and curious what was to come with the new jersey, it excited me. I mean, come on! This is a big opportunity to have something that mixes unique vision with nostalgia and fits the pretentious nature of the Lightning’s current clean look! It could be an additional morale lift to a season that is already a stratospheric thunderstorm! I had been wondering if this would even happen; a third jersey for Tampa Bay in 2018-19, but here it was, finally, and…and…and…!!

Meh.

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