First Night, First Impressions

For opening night of the 2006-07 hockey season, I have to think the Lightning's efforts started and stopped with Marc Denis' first game between the pipes for the Bolts.

The game itself was drab -- on and off the ice as the broadcast on local television where the picture and sound quality were pathetic at best -- and ended in a 3-2 shootout win as you know. But Denis' effort was of note... Even though you didn't see acrobatics in net.

That's part of the reason it's of note.

During play, you weren't on-edge wondering if the desperation shot would get past him. Denis performed both coolly and collected when faced with pressure. He did give up 2 power play goals to put the Lightning in a hole -- but those are as much defensive faults as a great effort by the THrashers.

Maybe I'm making excuses for him? Maybe not.

Onto the rest of the Lightning -- it was odd watching the Bolts and not seeing the familiar #33 and #13... It was even odder witnessing #15 on ice once more as it's been 3 years since Nikita Alexeev was last on the Lightning roster. But the change in members on the roster didn't change around enough with the Bolts. They still have a weakness on the top lines -- especially non-shooting Dmitry Afanasenkov. They still aren't playing as well as they should on the power play...

Oh, yeah, that and Ryan Craig will go in front of the net and do the dirty work... That and Vincent Lecavalier is a nightmare to defend on the shootout.