500, 50, 1

Recapping last nights game is something painful and yet something almost inspiring because you watched artwork... Hell, it was dueling artwork. Rembrandt vs. Picasso, winner take 2 points home.

Of course, with artwork it comes down to who you enjoy looking at more - not effort put forth by the artist. Yet, it's almost the same in last night's hockey game at Times Palace.

The Lightning's 500th home game ever (there 1000th game was played in Los Angeles during the recent road trip) was artwork in the effort put out by the Lightning... 50 shots on goal, two miraculous goals... One great effort... But if effort is worth discussing, no one's effort on either team amounts to or can compare to that of Roberto Luongo for the Florida Panthers.

For years, the Lightning (during their competative-yet-mediocre early years) were stymied by Panthers netminder John Vanbiesbrouck... And for years now, Roberto Luongo has taken up the task of replacing (and erasing the memory of) Beezer in Miami. This guy is worth the price of admission alone - watching him make save after save and keeping you on the edge of your seat, wondering just whether or not your team can a puck past this indominable and omnipotent force that stands between the pipes.

There was speculation on the Lightning message board that I haunt about what it would take for the Lightning to acquire Luongo... Arguments formed that it would take Vincent Lecavalier to start with... And my thought is, after last night is this: Bye Vinny. Hello Roberto.

Hockey starts and ends with goaltending, this should be a no brainer for Lightning fans who have seen two different netminders help lead the Lightning to the playoffs. Darren Puppa was between the pipes for a mediocre-but-formidable Lightning team in the mid 1990's and was a force all in himself until his back gave out. Everyone should easily recall what Nikolai Khabibulin was able to do between the pipes for the Lightning from the start to the end of his tenure with the team...

Roberto's better than both those netminders... Possibly combined.

Vincent Lecavalier puts up 9 shots on Luongo and can't score. Dan Boyle? 6. Martin St. Louis? 4. Ruslan Fedotenko? 4. Brad Richards took 3 and got a lucky break on #4... Leading to the Bolts first goal of the game to tie it late in the 3rd.

It reminds me of a line from A Few Good Men as JoAnn Galloway speaks of her respect for Marines:

Because they stand upon a wall and say, "Nothing's going to hurt you tonight, not on my watch." That's Luongo... That's why I respect him and why I think of him as worth the cost of a Lecavalier or Richards or another elite player on the Lightning...

One point goes to the Lightning and the Run continues in part...