Vincent Lecavalier's 1,000th NHL game; Tampa Bay Lightning at New York Islanders preview

Bruce Bennett

14 seasons later, captain Vincent Lecavalier will play his 1000th NHL game of his career in Uniondale this afternoon. We talk briefly about things and today's matinee.

WHERE: Nassau Count Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Uniondale, New York
WHEN: 1 PM EST | | TICKETS: Check Availability
MEDIA: Sun Sports (cable), 620 AM WDAE (radio)
OPPONENT COVERAGE: Lighthouse Hockey, NYI Point Blank

The Tampa Bay Times compiled a list of greatest and worst things in Tampa Bay Lightning history, running it on Saturday morning in preparation to the season opener of the Lightning's 20th anniversary season. The trade they focused on as the greatest in Bolts history was one that netted the services of Nikolai Khabibulin. A trade, in the end, that would lead to great things in a very limited window of three seasons.

By contrast, before the season we at Raw Charge put together (for Puck Daddy) a list o Lightning team essentials and... Well, let me just quote here:

When we talked to fans about the essential trade in Lightning history, most responses hinged on deals that were crucial to the Bolts winning the 2004 Stanley Cup. Obtaining goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin in 2001 was a game changer for the franchise, and the trades that brought in right wing Ruslan Fedotenko and defenseman Brad Lukowich (during the 2002 NHL draft) were vital to rounding out the eventual championship roster. What those deals lack is a lasting impact on the Lightning that long preceded and succeeded the 2004 championship.

The essential trade in Tampa Bay Lightning history helped define the direction of the franchise: In 1998, Tampa Bay traded defensemen Bryan Marchment and David Shaw, along with its 1st round selection in the 1998 entry draft to the San Jose Sharks for left wing Andrei Nazarov and a 1998 1st round selection (previously acquired by the Sharks from the Florida Panthers). That draft pick would be Vincent Lecavalier.

374 goals, 470 assists, 844 points, a Rocket Richard scoring trophy, the captaincy and his name on the Stanley Cup... This afternoon marks Vincent Lecavalier's 1000th game in the National Hockey League, with every game before it played with the Tampa Bay Lightning. Congratulations, Vinny!

There's hockey to talk about here besides VL4's milestone. Though it's difficult to label trends and statistical aberrations after a single game, there are things to note from Saturday and pray they don't carry over into the rest of the season... While you can also hope the Bolts take certain good habits with them the next 47 games...

One area of concern and maybe it's best to label it as nerves, was the careless play that opened the contest. The Bolts afforded the Capitals with three power play opportunities one after another after another to open the game. That was tempting fate, and putting a lot of weight on the Lightning penalty kill that was facing a very capable Capitals team.

On the flip side, after being outshot 17-8 in the first period (largely because of those power play opportunities given to the Caps early on), the Bolts had 26 shots in the 2nd and 3rd periods combined, and limited Washington to 13 total shots over that span.

What's the point? Limiting shots on goal is a plus. The Lightning gauged things by quality shots last season in writing off the bad habit of allowing so many opposing shots on goal. Limiting shots and limiting opportunities, period, is a must, while taking plenty of your own (you miss all the shots you don't take, after all).

Speaking of shots on goal, the New York Islanders mustered 19 against Martin Brodeur on Saturday in New York. The outcome was, well... It was against Brodeur and Broduer was playing like Brodeur. I don't have to draw you a diagram, 2-1 the final.

There are only some 105 regular season games left to be played by the Isles in Uniondale. They'll be relocating to Brooklyn's Barclay's Center for the 2015-16 season. Perhaps games played on federal holidays won't have rather cheesy promotions tied to them after the team moves? Sorry, as much as I like Marvel and the Avengers, this is in no way a fitting promotion for Martin Luther King Jr. Day (or arguably a pro team). At least it's not the NHL Guardians who will be making an appearance.

The Bolts are playing back-to-back contests. They'll be heading to Raleigh to take on the Hurricanes tomorrow before heading back to Tampa to start a season-long five game home stand against the Ottawa Senators.

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