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Commentary

Hear the latest commentary from the original Lightning Insider Erik Erlendsson as well as other prominent sports writers and sports celebrities through the hockey world. Stay tuned as we ramp up so please check back.

 

A group effort: Predicting how the expansion draft will play out for Tampa Bay Lightning


By Erik Erlendsson | @Erik_Erlendsson | Like us on Facebook
June 13, 2017


The offseason is already underway.

Just hours after Sidney Crosby picked up the Stanley Cup and paraded it around Bridgestone Arena as the Pittsburgh Penguins captured their second consecutive championship, the clock started, counting down to several key dates in the offseason calendar.

While the buyout window is the first to come up on the list, it’s not the main focus. And for Lightning fans, don’t expect Steve Yzerman to utilize it this year, despite what anybody thinks about Ryan Callahan.

After that, it’s all about the expansion draft, which will unfold over the next 10 days, culminating with the revealing taking place on June 21 during the NHL Awards show.

In the days to come, there will be plenty of speculation about which players are protected and which players Vegas will end up selecting. So I invited a few other outlets to participate in an expansion draft by providing their choices for who will be protected by Tampa Bay and which Lightning player will be selected by Vegas.

Those participating are Corey Long from NHL.com, Alex Boucher and W.B. Philip from LightningShout.com, Trevor Grout from The Scrum Sports, Chad Schnarr of BoltProspects.com and Saima Siddiqi from RawCharge.com

Read more ...

Nashville Hot - the Best Lesson From A Southern Fanbase


By Andrew Weiss | @WeissHockeyQ | Like us on Facebook
June 10, 2017


The calendar has flipped to June. Or rather, the calendar app on your iPhone silently switched from May to June to little or no fanfare.

When it comes to hockey, however, that is a significant change in time for avid fans. If your team is still playing on rinks rather than links this time of the year, they’ve been successful enough to make the Stanley Cup Final.

For the first time, this applies to the fan base in Nashville, the golden swarm that flocks to Bridgestone Arena. From smashing cars to country stars, Predators hockey has provided a unique take on how hockey is watched. As the playoffs grow deeper, Nashville has gotten spicier than the Colonel’s special 11-part blend.

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Kucherov, a man of few words, offered his fair share of them recently. So what do they mean?

by Erik Erlendsson | @Erik_Erlendsson | Like us on Facebook
April 27, 2017


A man of few words had plenty to say recently.

Throughout the season, Tampa Bay Lightning All-Star Nikita Kucherov did not hold many sessions with the media. When it did, they were usually short.

That tends to happen when he is asked his reaction to being named to the NHL All-Star game results in a two-word answer of, “I’m excited’’. That was it, didn’t expand on the thought, didn’t share why he was excited to be heading to Los Angeles to play in the league’s showcase event. He didn’t even crack a smile while saying it.

No real problem with that, English is not his native tongue and it’s not uncommon for players from Russia not wanting to open up to the North American media in case something gets twisted and the wrong message gets out. And quite honestly, since Kucherov arrived in Tampa, he’s always been a bit shy and reserved when it comes to a lot of media attention. In one-on-one interviews, he’s more relaxed and tends to be more open if it’s with somebody he feels a sense of trust with.

Well, on Wednesday, an interview with Kucherov conducted in his native tongue was posted and made the rounds. And apparently, Kucherov had a lot to say.

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Tampa Bay Lightning will end the season in disappointment, but the pain will be temporary

by Erik Erlendsson | @Erik_Erlendsson | Like us on Facebook
April 8, 2017


The dream died on Saturday sometime around 9:40 p.m. EDT, on the ice at Air Canada Centre.

Connor Brown, one of the half-dozen impressive Toronto Maple Leaf rookies, capped off a third-period comeback to lift Toronto to a 5-3 victory against a Pittsburgh team that was already missing some of its top players due to injury before opting to sit a handful of other regulars for the game.

With the victory, Toronto clinched the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference standings, thereby eliminating the Tampa Bay Lightning from postseason play. It’s the first time Tampa Bay won’t make the playoffs since 2013, when Jon Cooper took over the head coaching duties. It also ends a remarkable run by Cooper

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Looking back at the Ben Bishop era with fondness and appreciation

by Erik Erlendsson | @Erik_Erlendsson | Like us on Facebook
February 26, 2017


TAMPA, Fla. – The move many Lightning fans didn’t want to see happen came to fruition.

Ben Bishop was dealt to the Los Angeles Kings on Sunday. It was a move that was always going to happen. It was a deal that Steve Yzerman had to make, something he agonized over for nearly two years.

It was a decision made for the right reasons, even if it’s unpopular.

The end of one era opens to door to another as Andrei Vasilevskiy assumes the role he was destined to assume ever since the Lightning made Vasilevskiy the first goaltender selected in the 2012 draft as the 19th overall pick.

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The curious case of Ben Bishop: trade him or keep him?

by Erik Erlendsson | @Erik_Erlendsson | Like us on Facebook
February 24, 2017


TAMPA, Fla. – The trade deadline is rapidly approaching. Steve Yzerman has some serious decisions to make.

Are the Lightning a buyer? A seller? Neither?

Good chance this all comes down to the wire before he fully commits one way or the other.

And of course the biggest decision he has to make is what to do with goaltender Ben Bishop, who is all but certain to playing elsewhere next season no matter what decision Yzerman makes before Wedensday’s deadline.

So let’s lay it out there and offer reasons why Tampa Bay should hang on to Bishop and reasons why the team should move the pending unrestricted free agent.

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Commentary: How to handle the goaltending situation.

by Erik Erlendsson | @Erik_Erlendsson | Like us on Facebook
February 20, 2017


TAMPA, Fla. – What to do about the goaltending

How do the Lightning handle that situation between now and March 1, when the NHL trading deadline comes to pass?

As it sits going in to Tuesday's home game against Edmonton 7:30 p.m, Fox Sports Sun, 970-AM, the Lightning remain six points out of the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Which means, even while riding a season-best six-game point streak (4-0-2) after the dramatic overtime victory in Colorado on Sunday, Tampa Bay has gained a total of two points in the standings.

So as Tampa Bay appears to be on the type of run it knew they needed to have any chance to make the postseason, a move up the standings hasn't exactly taken place to this point as on Feb. 3, while occupying the basement in the conference standings, they sat eight points out of the playoffs.

If you're Steve Yzerman, what do you do with the goaltending?

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Looking at trade deadline strategy Lightning should take

by Erik Erlendsson | @Erik_Erlendsson | Like us on Facebook
February 8, 2017


TAMPA, Fla. – The NHL trade deadline is less than a month away.

That means silly season is nearly at hand. It’s that time of year around the league when every pending UFA is on the trading block, every team needs a top four defenseman and every time scratches are announced prior to a game, a buzz begins trying to find out exactly why they were scratched.

The trade deadline, though, is always a topic of conversation right up until the deadline passes – this year on March 1 – and then for a few days beyond.

So what should we expect from the Lightning as we enter silly season?

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Are winds of change starting to circle around Tampa Bay Lightning?

by Erik Erlendsson | @Erik_Erlendsson | Like us on Facebook
February 6, 2017


TAMPA, Fla. – Something appears to be materializing on the Lightning horizon.

A slow, but steady, breeze is starting to build up as the winds of change start to whisper through the air.

After weeks of sensing that changes needed to take place with the season sinking, the Lightning might finally be to that point.

There is growing speculation starting to bubble to the surface that Steve Yzerman might final be ready to pull the trigger on possible roster moves.

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Path to the playoffs daunting task for Tampa Bay Lightning, but not impossible

by Erik Erlendsson | @Erik_Erlendsson | Like us on Facebook
February 5, 2017


TAMPA, Fla. – Bring out your clichés.

It ain’t over until it’s over.

So you’re saying there’s a chance

It’s not over until the Fat Lady sings

You’ve heard them all before, trying to keep hope alive.

And this is why we love sports – because they are all true, just as Sunday’s Super Bowl taught us.

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Why was Jonathan Drouin on the bench in the dying minutes of a one-goal loss?

by Erik Erlendsson | @Erik_Erlendsson | Like us on Facebook
January 31, 2017


TAMPA, Fla. – With the Lightning season all but hanging in the balance, one of the top offensive threats sat plastered to the bench.

With Tampa Bay trailing by a goal late in the third period and in desperate need of a goal, one of the top offensive produces this season didn’t step on to the ice.

But in the dying seconds of a one-goal game, a game that Tampa Bay absolutely had to find a way to get points out of, one of the team’s less offensive talents was tapped to go over the boards to try to find a way to tie the game and at least get it to overtime.

The Lightning would go on to lose 4-3.

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Tampa Bay Lightning at the All-Star break; assessing recent moves and looking ahead

by Erik Erlendsson | @Erik_Erlendsson | Like us on Facebook
January 28, 2017


TAMPA, Fla. – All-Star weekend is hardly a time to relax. But it can be a time for reflection.

For three days, the focus of the league zeroes in on Los Angeles, with festivities getting underway on Friday during a gala celebration to announce the full list of the 100 Greatest Players from the first 100 years of the league.

The skills competition takes place Saturday while the actual 3-on-3 All-Star tournament takes place Sunday afternoon, with Tampa Bay Lightning players Nikita Kucherov and Victor Hedman participating.

So while the league is focused on the happenings taking place in Hollywood, there have been some happenings surround the Lightning in the past few days, including the trade of Nikita Nesterov to the Montreal Canadiens.

Now, with a couple of days off, let’s reflect on where the Lightning sit at the All-Star break, how they got here and what lies ahead, potentially in the form of moves to help set this team right.

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Steve Yzerman can't afford to stand pat, changes must take place

by Erik Erlendsson | @Erik_Erlendsson | Like us on Facebook
January 22, 2017


TAMPA, Fla. - This is painful to watch.

Those are the words of somebody involved with the Lightning when I asked them about that state of affairs surrounding the on-ice situation with the Lightning. And that was over two weeks ago.

I can’t imagine what it must have been like on Saturday night watching Tampa Bay get burned in the desert by the 29th ranked team in the league, dropping a 5-3 decision to the Arizona Coyotes, which had two victories in the previous 15 games.

Tampa Bay woke up in last place in the Atlantic Division standings. Now it’s time to wake this team up.

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Marty St. Louis has been honored with his number retired, who should also be considered?

by Erik Erlendsson | @Erik_Erlendsson | Like us on Facebook
January 19, 2017


TAMPA, Fla. - Resting in the rafters of Amalie Arena, the No. 26 sits among the other banners, proclaiming team successes of the past.

It only seems fitting that the jersey number belonging to Marty St. Louis rests among them. After all, he was right in the middle of all of those other banners – 2003 division crown, 2004 conference champions, 2004 Stanley Cup champions. St. Louis even had an indirect hand in the 2015 conference championship banner.

So, in revisiting the ceremony from Jan. 13 in which the No. 26 was officially retired and never to be worn again following a likely Hall of Fame career that goes beyond just the numbers, the question after witnessing such an emotional ceremony is, who goes up next?

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A special ceremony for a special player; St. Louis honored with jersey retirement

by Erik Erlendsson | @Erik_Erlendsson | Like us on Facebook
January 13, 2017


Tampa, Fla. - There were going to be tears, and there were tears.

There were going to be laughs, and there were laughs.

And, oh, the memories, there were plenty of memories flashed all over the video board. And they flashed through the minds of everybody inside Amalie Arena on Friday.

There was a special celebration, the kind of which had never been seen in Lightning franchise history. For the first time ever, the team held a jersey retirement ceremony in honor of Marty St. Louis.

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Assessing the Tampa Bay Lightning coaching situation amidst firestorm

by Erik Erlendsson | @Erik_Erlendsson | Like us on Facebook
January 9, 2017


TAMPA, Fla..- A firestorm feels as if it's starting to swirl around the Lightning.

It will continue to burn as long as the losing and defensive deficiencies continue.

And amidst the topic of whether changes need to take place, the biggest hot-button topic centers around the status of head coach Jon Cooper and whether or not his job security is in jeopardy

Is it?

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Vasilevskiy's been challenged, has he provided any answers?

by Erik Erlendsson | @Erik_Erlendsson | Like us on Facebook
December 30, 2016


The moment Ben Bishop overstretched his right leg, skated to the Lightning bench and pulled himself out of a game on Dec. 20, the focus changed.

A top tandem quickly became a solo act.

The spotlight shifted straight on to Andrei Vasilevskiy and will remain focused on the 22-year-old for the time being.

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Slumping Lightning in need of some changes?

 

by Erik Erlendsson | @Erik_Erlendsson | Like us on Facebook
December, 11, 2016


TAMPA, Fla. – The sense of frustration is starting to mount. It’s not hard to notice as the Lightning’s losing ways continue an antagonizing trend.

Tampa Bay has one win in the past eight games. They have not won a regulation game since a third-period rally to knock off Philadelphia on Nov. 23, the day before Thanksgiving. That’s more than two weeks without a victory (the lone win in that span came in a shootout against Washington).

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Where the Tampa Bay Lightning stand through 27 games

 

by Erik Erlendsson | @Erik_Erlendsson | Like us on Facebook
December, 6, 2016


TAMPA, Fla. – What to make of the Tampa Bay Lightning through 27 games – contender or pretender?

Just past the one-quarter mark of the season, Tampa Bay has 30 points, one point behind the Boston Bruins for the third spot in the Atlantic Division as of games of Dec. 5 but just two points behind Ottawa for second.

The pace through 27 games (14-11-2) this season is one ahead of last season through the same mark when they were 13-11-3. Last season Tampa Bay played 15 road games with a 7-6-2 road record through the opening 27 games while this year they have played 16 away from Amalie Arena with a 7-8-1 record.

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What exactly are the Panthers doing down in Sunrise?

 

by Erik Erlendsson | @Erik_Erlendsson | Like us on Facebook


TAMPA, Fla. – Quite the virtual scene erupted on the night of Nov. 27 as an otherwise peaceful night around the NHL turned in to one that one that took on the form of pitchforks and burning torches.

Shortly after the Florida Panthers blew a two-goal lead and lost 3-2 to the Carolina Hurricanes at PNC Arena news broke that the Panthers had fired head coach Gerard Gallant along with assistant coach Mike Kelly. The two were seen outside the loading dock at PNC Arena, bags in hand, waiting for a taxi cab.

Both were fired shortly after Gallant met with the media following the game with general manager Tom Rowe assuming the head coaching duties on an interim basis for the remainder of the season.

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There is no goalie controversy - for now

 

by Erik Erlendsson | @Erik_Erlendsson | Like us on Facebook


TAMPA, Fla. – In football circles there is an adage that states if a team has two No. 1 quarterbacks, they don’t have one.

That saying doesn’t exactly translate over to hockey. Teams can successfully operate in a two goalie system. In recent years there have been some teams that have thrived under those circumstances. In today’s game, having two quality goaltenders is almost a necessity as points are so valuable teams can’t afford to give any away.

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Marty was always going to be first

 

by Erik Erlendsson | @Erik_Erlendsson | Like us on Facebook


TAMPA, Fla. – It was always going to be Marty.

I get it, many are unhappy with the decision by the Tampa Bay Lightning to retire the jersey of former captain Marty St. Louis, which the team will do on Jan. 13.

The departure of St. Louis from the franchise that made him a star left a bitter feeling among many in the fan base, maybe even in the organization. Those feelings are difficult to put aside.

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