Saturday, October 4, 2008

Amidst the other Madness - the New Tampa Bay Lightning debut Today

By JC De La Torre

With the Rays in the playoffs, the Bucs moving into the second quarter of the season, the USF Bulls competing in the Big East, its easy to forget the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The Oren Koules/Len Barrie era begins in earnest in Tampa Bay, as the re-made hockey club faces off against the New York Rangers today at Noon in the Czech Republic. New Coach Barry Melrose tries to put together a hockey club that looks dramatically different than the one that left the ice last April. Gary Roberts, Ryan Malone, Vaclav Prospal (for his third stint), Andrej Meszaros, Radim Vrbata, Matt Carle, Mark Recchi, Olaf Kolzig and others join the Bolts. Gone are familiar faces like Dan Boyle.

And we haven't gotten to the rookie phenom, Steven Stamkos.

The good thing for the Bolts is they began in Europe, meaning the team has travelled together, eaten together, toured together. Whether or not this translate to chemistry on the ice remains to be seen.

The Bolts look primed to return to contention in the Southeast division if the Goaltending in Mike Smith and Ollie the Goalie can hold up.

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