For the third time this season, the Tampa Bay Lightning had a scheduled game postponed due to COVID related protocols. With the Carolina Hurricanes still recovering from their bout with the virus, the game scheduled for Tuesday was rescheduled for later in the season. The Bolts have now had almost as many games postponed (3) as they’ve played (4). Hopefully they’re getting this out of the way early in the season and the next three months will be jam-packed with hockey.
Since there was no game last night, there was no recap. We haven’t had a recap in these parts since Saturday and I’m afraid we’re getting out of practice so why not turn back the hands of time and give y’all a Retro Recap? In the year of the Retro Reverse jerseys it makes sense.
The date is January 26th, 1999. The US Senate is preparing for the impeachment trial of a president. “She’s All That” is the number one movie in America. And the Tampa Bay Lightning are struggling through a miserable season.
The Lightning had just celebrated hosting the NHL All Star game and returned to the regular season riding a three-game unbeaten streak. That, and the play of free-agent Wendal Clark are the highlights of the season so far. They are mired in last place in the league with just 26 points and a 11-30-4 record.
Their opponent on that night was the Montreal Canadiens. They weren’t doing too much better as they were 17-21-8 and in last in the Northeast Division, but were riding a hot streak with a 9-3-1 record in their last 13 games. The goaltenders were Corey Schwab for the the Lightning and Jeff Hacket for the Habs. The setting - the Ice Palace.
The Lightning started off strong, generating eleven scoring chances in the first period, Unfortunately, none of the fourteen shots they threw at Hackett found the back of the net. “When you come out of a period like that zero-zero, you know something is going to happen” head coach Jaques Demers said after the game.
Something indeed happened in the second period. That something was Martin Rucinsky. The veteran forward scored twice off of Lightning mistakes to give the visitors the lead. The first goal came on a Jassen Cullimore turnover in the neutral zone midway through the period. He added his second a few minutes later just as a Lightning power play was expiring. The Bolts were stuck in the offensive zone and Rucinsky took a clearing pass from form Bolt Igor Ulanov and broke in alone on Schwab.
A comeback was unlikely. Dating back to the previous season, Tampa Bay was 1-65-6 when trailing after two periods. However, they didn’t go quietly as they battled back to cut the Montreal lead to one goal with just over six minutes to play. It was a line with ties to the Quebec area that broke up the shutout. Former Canadien Stephane Richer won a puck battle in the corner and dished the puck to another former Montreal forward, Darcy Tucker. “Tucksie” slid a nifty backhand pass to Montreal-native, Benoit Hogue, who fired a wristshot past Hackett for his fourth goal of the season.
Hackett finished the game with 28 saves (“I hope they buy him a couple of Molsons,” Demers lamented after the game) while Schwab stopped 27. A young kid by the name of Vincent Lecavalier played 13:34 and had one shot. The rookie was held without a goal for the ninth straight game.
The loss kicked off a 10-game winless streak (9 losses, 1 tie) and to one of the most notable trades, at least name-wise, in Lightning history. Three days after the loss the Lightning sent playoff hero Alex Selivanov to Edmonton in exchange for Alexandre Daigle, a highly-touted forward who has become synonymous with the term “bust”.
Daigle was the number one overall pick in 1993, but never quite lived up to the hype. He had a couple of 20-goal seasons with the Senators before being dealt to the Flyers in in 1998. After a turbulent year in Philadelphia the Lightning took a chance on him by working out a three-team deal that sent Daigle to Tampa, Selivanov to Edmonton, and Andrei Kovalenko to Philadelphia.
He finished out the season with the Lightning, recording 12 points (6 goals, 6 assists) in 32 games. In the off-season they dealt him to the New York Rangers for cash considerations.
Information for this recap was pulled from The Tampa Tribune and St. Petersburg Times editions available on newspapers.com.
The Lightning named Victor Hedman as their player of the week for the two games they played against the Columbus Blue Jackets. The Big Swede had a goal and two assists, and the goal he scored was pretty sweet.
Carter Verhaeghe had two more points for the Florida Panthers last night. Of all of the ex-Bolts, he’s off to the hottest start.
Mathieu Joseph has played on three different lines with the Lightning so far this season and will most likely line up at a position he hasn’t played in years once the Bolts are back on the ice. Joseph’s biggest asset is his speed but now he has to learn on the fly the finer points of playing in the middle.
Anthony Cirelli is solid on defense. If he can bump up his offensive production he could be the “x-factor” for the Lightning this season.
The team released their schedule for their third and retro jerseys. The new sweaters will be worn three times this season while their standard, all-black third jerseys will see the ice six times.
The NHL has reportedly raised $1 billion in new debt, secured against future revenues, in order to help their clubs out with short term financial obligations such as payroll and operational costs as they wade through the economic mess of not having fans in the building. According to sources that spoke to the Sports Business Journal teams will be able to borrow up to $30 million from this fund.
Vegas Golden Knights’ General Manager stepped out of the press box and went behind the bench on Tuesday as the entire Vegas coaching staff was self-isolating out of “an abundance of caution” due to COVID contact tracing. He was assisted by the franchise’s AHL coaching staff in the 5-4 shootout loss to the St. Louis Blues.
John Forslund’s name came up as replacement for Rick Peckham after the Hall-of-Fame broadcaster retired from the Lightning booth. He didn’t get the job, but it looks like he’s going to be alright. Forslund was named the play-by-play announcer for the Seattle Kracken once they start up next season.