THE LIGHTNING INSIDER
I was starting to worry about my prediction that Team White had too much offense for Team Black to contain in the scrimmages, but Chris Gratton and Jason Ward got me off the hook today. Trailing, 1-0, in the second period, Gratton beat Johan Holmqvist with a wrister on a breakaway and Ward tipped in a centering pass by Brad Richards for the winner. The smaller but vocal crowd (how do people pull off missing work on a Monday morning?) seemed pleased that there wasn’t a third 1-1 tie.
Early on I was regretting my prediction, based on the way the Vincent Lecavalier-Marty St. Louis-Vaclav Prospal line was flying. You can tell they don’t have their timing back yet, but they are downright scary nonetheless. Prospal scored the prettiest goal of the camp so far, breaking down the right wing, shielding the defender and roofing a puck short-side that Karri Ramo still hasn’t seen.
Goaltending-wise, Marc Denis was perfect again and now has some gaudy numbers from the scrimmages with a goals-against average of 0.74 and a save percentage of 0.972. All three goaltenders were strong once again.
Dan Jancevski – He’s big, steady and mobile. Some considered him a favorite to win the spot entering camp, but I wouldn’t say he’s wrapped anything up just yet.
Doug Janik – Doug was solid last year, and he’s come into camp with a new level of determination. He’s in better shape, and he’s playing with more of an edge to his game. My money’s on him.
Bryce Lampman – A similar player to Janik, he’s calm with the puck and makes smart decisions. Even if he doesn’t make the roster out of camp, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him in the NHL soon.
Jay Leach – Leach is a physical specimen and plays with more of an edge to his game than some of the others. If the Lightning brass is looking for size and physicality, it helps his chances.
Mike Lundin – Mike came into camp as a bit of an unknown, and his stock has done nothing but rise. Not really expected to be in the NHL this season, Mike could turn out to be a Paul Ranger-type surprise in the next year or so.
David Schneider – A late addition to camp, David is fast, smart and moves the puck quickly like the Lightning coaches want. He’s a dark-horse candidate at this point, but he’ll be a strong asset in Norfolk is he doesn’t make it.
Matt Smaby – As John Tortorella said today, Matt will play in the NHL, the only question is, when? He’s big, he’s physical and he progressed as expected in Springfield last season. He could win a spot with strong preseason games.