Death, taxes, Conacher; Tampa Bay Lightning versus New York Rangers preview

WHERE: Tampa Bay Times Forum, Tampa, Florida
WHEN: 7:30 PM EST | | TICKETS: Check Availability
MEDIA: Sun Sports (cable), 970 WFLA (radio)
OPPONENT COVERAGE: Blueshirt Banter this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.
-- Benjamin Franklin, November 13, 1789

Benjamin Franklin got it wrong when he suggested there are only two certainties in life. It's actually three. While I credit Chad Schnarr of Bolt Prospects for opening my eyes to the truth, he may have gotten the revelation from another source to whom I cannot attribute things

You see, the certainties in life are death, taxes, and Cory Conacher.

You do remember Cory Conacher, right? He's another former collegiate, undersized dynamo that had come into training camp with the Tampa Bay Lightning last fall and left with everyone's attention. He wasn't signed to an NHL contract, but he was Tampa Bay Lightning property with thanks to his AHL contract with the Norfolk Admirals.

Cory has been nothing short of brilliant in his first full professional season, racking up 64 points (30 goals, 34 assists) in 57 games for the Admirals so far this season. He's an integral part of the first-place Ads offense.

And now he's got an NHL contract to go along with it.

It all came out early Thursday that Cory would be signed to a two-year, two-way contract with the Lightning. That didn't become official until later in the day but it's something the team had been planning for quite a while (to put Conacher under contract).

Is it likely Cory will end up in Tampa sometime in the last few weeks of the season? I wouldn't count against it, but he does have business to take care of in the AHL - like helping the Ads go as far as possible in the AHL playoffs. The Ads lead the AHL's Eastern Conference at current, and have an active 10 game winning streak.

Congratulations to Cory, and go Ads!

The Bolts may be ending a quick homestand tonight with their game against the New York Rangers at Times Palace (they play back-to-back games - tonight against the Rangers and tomorrow against the Carolina Hurricanes in Raleigh), but fear not, Lightning fans. The two-game stretch that started with Tuesday's victory over the Montreal Canadiens is a part of a schedule where the Lightning play at home 10 times in 12 games. There are quick visits to Raleigh (as mentioned) and Washington to play the Capitals, but the Bolts play most of the month at the Forum.

Enjoy it while you can. The home season ends on April 2nd against the Capitals.

The lineup which was decimated by a flu strain should be in better shape tonight. Damian Cristodero at the Times elaborated on how far and wide the bug went - players, coaches, even team executives - though neglected to mention that fellow beat reporter Erik Erlendsson was also felled by the strain.

What does that mean for the Lightning lineup? It's getting closer to the new-normal, post-deadline lineup that Steve Yzerman crafted leading up to Monday's trade deadline. Defenseman Keith Aulie has joined the team and is expected to play tonight against the Rangers; Nate Thompson, Brendan Mikkelson and Tim Wallace were all felled by the aforementioned flu bug and will likely be back in the lineup tonight. Injured Ryan Shannon was back at practice yesterday as well. Will he play? We'll see.

While Vincent Lecavalier remains out of action with his broken hand, head coach Guy Boucher told Peter Pupello that Lecavalier could be back as soon as 10 days from now. From a more negative frame, in the same article, GM Steve Yzerman said that he does not believe Victor Hedman has a concussion - but he remains out indefinitely with an "upper body injury".

The Rangers beat the Hurricanes last night, 3-2. They did it without Captain Ryan Callahan, who has a bruised foot. Blueshirt Banter has an article this morning looking at the importance of Callahan in the Ranger offense.

while the Lightning cling to a scant percentage chance to make the playoffs (7.1% according to Sport Club Stats), the Rangers continue to roll in the Eastern Conference. They're not competing with the Bruins for the top seed - no, New York has that handily right now. They're in a battle with the Vancouver Canucks in the Western Conference for the President's Trophy - the team that wins the most points in the regular season. It's quite a lively time for Ranger fans. And is there any doubt John Tortorella will be a Jack Adams award finalist for the second time of in his career?

Steven Stamkos is up to 44 goals for the season, with 19 games left in the season. Just where do you think he'll finish?

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