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THE LIGHTNING INSIDER

Sunday, 09.16.2007 / 3:05 PM / Lightning Insider
By Lightning Insider
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THE LIGHTNING INSIDER
Let Tampabaylightning.com become your destination for all the latest Lightning scoops. The Lightning Insider will be in the stands, in the locker room and on the road with the team throughout the 2007-08 season to provide you with a positive look at the Bolts as they pursue Lord Stanley’s hardware. Our resident snoop will post the latest following practices and morning skates, and he’ll make sure you’re the first to know when the Lightning are making news.
Tampa Bay Lightning training camp, Day 4

Well, the intensity level was certainly up for today’s scrimmage, but the outcome was the same. The goaltenders were the stars (“the three best players on the ice today” according to John Tortorella) as Team Black and Team White battled to another 1-1 tie. It was good to see Michel Ouellet get in on the action, as he tied the game with a little more than a minute remaining after Nick Tarnasky had given Team Black the early lead.
  • As expected, Andreas Karlsson jumped up to the Brad Richards line along with Ouellet, while Jan Hlavac moved down to skate with Chris Gratton and Jason Ward.
  • Tortorella said the first cuts will be made after Saturday’s preseason game against Washington, and while he hadn’t discussed it with Bolts GM Jay Feaster yet, he’s hoping to trim the current 33-man roster to 25 or 26.
  • Karl Stewart is starting to aggravate some of the boys on Team White. Shane O’Brien gave him a couple of solid slashes and caught him with his head down at the blue line during the scrimmage, while Filip Kuba gave Stewart a nice punch to the  head when the two became tangled in the defensive end.
  • Marc Denis was on his game today, flashing his glove on several occasions to stay perfect (17 saves) in 32 minutes of action. Denis has a save percentage of .963 after two days, just below Karri Ramo’s .970. Yes, they’re only scrimmage games, but considering the rough start Denis had in the scrimmages last year, it’s a great sign.
  • Scary moment No. 1 of camp occurred in the Team Black practice session, when Andre Roy clipped Dan Boyle in the face with his stick and Boyle immediately headed to the locker room holding his right eye. Luckily, Boyle was only cut under the eye, and after athletic trainers Tommy Mulligan and Jason Serbus glued the cut together with some Dermabond (what ever happened to bandaids?), Boyle was back on the ice just in time to skate laps with his teammates. He had some playful but choice words in the locker room for Roy, one of his closest friends on the team. … Speaking of Boyle, he had the chance to meet shock rocker Alice Cooper at the Forum Friday night, talking a lot of golf and hockey. “He’s the most normal guy you’d ever want to meet,” he said.
  • Two scrimmage games remain (Monday and Tuesday) before the Lightning get a chance to hit someone who’s not a teammate when Dallas visits the Forum Wednesday night.
Some early impressions of some of the newcomers brought in by Feaster this season:

Jan Hlavac - I admit I wasn't sure what to expect out of Jan, who had spent the past three seasons in Europe. After two scrimmages, I'd have to say I'm impressed with the defensive responsibility he's shown. Nobody doubts his offensive abilities, but you need to play both ways on John Tortorella's team.

Chris Gratton - Does he count as a newcomer? Not only is it nice to see Chris back in the Lightning room where he belongs, it's heartening to see his slappers from the top of the circles and his ill temper in front of the net and along the boards.

Michel Ouellet – After a quiet camp before today, Ouellet finally gave a sample of why he was brought in with his goal in today’s scrimmage. As Richards wound to fire a shot at Ramo, Ouellet went to the net and seemed to fire the rebound at the exact moment it his the ice. Top shelf and leaving no chance for Ramo, it was a “goal scorer’s goal.”

Brad Lukowich - OK, he hasn't really been gone that long, but Luke is a different player than he was in 2004. The time he spent on Long Island and in the Jersey swamps (think he had to move when he got traded?) has made him a steadier, more confident defenseman. Luke's calming influence on Andre Roy is also important on the ice.

Craig MacDonald - This guy's a pro who doesn't seem to have a hole in his game. Though not a prolific scorer, MacDonald plays hard, doesn't shy away from anything and "thinks" the game as well as anyone. Talking to him, it's easy to see why he was the captain in Norfolk last season.

Assistant equipment manager Rob Kennedy - Bubba (or is it Bobbo??), who joins the Lightning from the Panthers, is on the ball and all business as he toils with two of the best in the game - Ray Thill and Jim Pickard. I just hope the guy is able to relax and lighten up when (if?) he goes home at night. Welcome Bub-Bobbo!