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Lightning Ready for Season Written by Laci Bloomers - November 1st, 2010

The 2010 -11 regular season is two days away, and the Tampa Bay Lightning feel pretty confident after completing the pre-season on top of the CMHL standings.

Last season the club came on in the second half to hit 95 points, but it was still only good enough for an 8th place finish.

This off-season brought in upgrades at all positions, and it clearly showed through the pre-season.  The club finished with 7 wins and a shoot-out loss in their final game for a league best 15 points.

Offensively, blue-line star Brian Rafalski led the way with 4 goals and 11 points.  That lead the pre-season scoring race.  The exciting thing is that 5 other players averaged a point per game, with yet another one coming just shy.

On the blue-line with Rafalski, Kurtis Foster picked up 9 assists to lead all players.  Mark Giordano, preparing for his first full CMHL season, scored a goal and added 8 helpers.  Ryan Malone had 4 goals and 9 points, while Rick Nash picked up 3 goals and 9 points. Nik Antropov added 4 goals and 4 assists, while Chris Clark picked up 7 points on the 3rd line.

The team's 30 goals topped the leaue in the 8-game preseason, and with scoring spread out over the top 3 lines it looks like they could have the depth to be very tough to play against.

Manning the nets, newcomer Mikka Kiprusoff gave Tampa fans a view at what they can expect, finishing with a league high 7 wins and a sparkling 2.10 GAA average and .921 save percentage.

The lines heading into the season look to have Nik Antropov centering Ryan Malone and David Moss.  The first of two rookies on the roster to start the season is center Mikael Backlund.  The 21 year old Swede was held pointless in the preseason despite good minutes centering the 2nd line.  He will be given every opportunity to stick with the team, likely starting the season between Rick Nash and Brian Gionta. Gionta finished the preseason with 6 points.

Daymond Langkow will be flanked by veterans Cory Stillman and Chris Clark.  The trio picked up 16 points in the preseason, to go with 42 shots.

Wayne Primeau will center Mark Cullen and Brad Marchand to start the season as the energy line.  They will be a tough line to play against, as they are tenatious checkers with some speed.

Rafalski and Doug Murray worked together as the top defensive pairing.  They had great chemistry last season and were solid in preseason.  Foster and Giordano paired up and combined for 17 points.  Brent Sopel and veteran Bryan Helmer formed the third pairing on the blue line.

While it is anybody's guess how many minutes he might this season, the back-up to Kipper looks to be Mike Brodeur.  Brodeur was brilliant in Macon last season after being signed by the organization after the season started as a free agent.

So it back and enjoy the hoockey season fans.  This looks like it could be a team to contend with for the first time in Tampa Bay history.


- Laci Bloomers reporting -




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here, take the Cup. it's a foregone conclusion


Written By: ATLsimon (2010-11-02 21:58:06)

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