Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

Lightning answer Stanley's call

Collapse
X
 
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Lightning answer Stanley's call

    By Phil Coffey | NHL.com
    June 7, 2004

    TAMPA -- The Stanley Cup is going to get quite a suntan this summer courtesy of the Tampa Bay Lightning.

    The Lightning completed a stunningly successful season Monday night, winning the seventh game of the Stanley Cup Finals, 2-1, over the equally game and inspired Calgary Flames.

    Tampa's Brad Richards, with 12 goals and 14 assists in 23 games, was named the winner of the Conn Smythe Trophy as the most valuable player in the 2004 playoffs.

    The Lightning, the top seed in the Eastern Conference this spring, rallied back against the sixth-seeded Flames, who had taken a 3-2 series lead with a victory in Game 5. But Tampa took Game 6 in Calgary to force the seventh game where anything could happen.

    Monday night, Ruslan Fedotenko happened early and Nikoilai Khabibulin happened late for the victors.

    Fedotenko scored a power-play goal in the first period and an even-strength goal in the second to give the Bolts a two-goal bulge.

    Khabibulin lived up to his nickname of "The 'Bulin Wall" in the third period, stepping to the fore as the Flames put on relentless, sustained pressure. Calgary's lone goal by Craig Conroy at 9:21 of the third was a power-play tally that got past a screened Khabibulin.

    "I didn't really try to put any pressure on myself going into the playoffs," said Khabibulin, who had been a lightning rod for criticism in some quarters. "I just tried to, you know, tried to do the best I can every game and see where it takes us."

    Well, you can't go much further than the seventh game of the Finals and leave the ice with the Stanley Cup.

    "If you go back three years ago, I don't know too many, if anybody, thought that we could win the Stanley Cup," Khabibulin said. "But you know, we were taking step by step. We were playing better. I think the most important thing is the core of the players stayed the same. Guys like Brad Richards and Vinny (Lecavalier) and Martin (St. Louis), a lot of the guys matured and obviously became very good players. I think that helped."

    Khabibulin's goaltending was critical in the third period. He faced only seven shots in the first two periods, but the Flames gave it everything they had in the third, putting 10 shots and unrelenting pressure on the Lightning.

    Conroy's goal beat Khabibulin high to the glove side with Martin Gelinas setting the screen in front while battling with Dave Andreychuk. The goal sent a surge of energy through the Flames who put on incredible pressure after the goal, with defenseman Jordan Leopold nearly tying the game with 4:46 left when he pinched in and very nearly got the puck over Khabibulin's outstretched arm and a diving Pavel Kubina. Steve Montador nearly scored from the circle to Khabibulin's left seconds later, but the goalie was able to knock the puck away amidst the Flames' suffocating pressure and preserve the victory.

    Despite the loss, the Flames played with heart and passion in what became a bitter disappointment to a wonderful season in which Calgary returned to the Stanley Cup Playoffs after a seven-season drought and as the sixth seed in the Western Conference eliminated three division winners ? Vancouver, Detroit and San Jose. But the Southeast Division champion Lightning were one division champ too many.

    "In the end, we ran out of gas," Flames coach Darryl Sutter said. "Winning Game 5 actually hurt us more than it helped us because the injuries (to defenseman Robyn Regehr and forward Shean Donovan) were sustained in it.

    "The longer the series went, the tougher it was going to be. I think we tried to summon all we could in terms of energy. In the end, they had more legs than we did.

    While showing plenty of heart in the process.

    "That's what it was at the end," Sutter said. "That's what they were playing on and that's all they had left."

    The Tampa victory was especially sweet for Andreychuk, who has toiled for 22 NHL seasons and was in appearing in his 1,759th career game ? 162 playoff games ? without winning the Stanley Cup. Until Monday night, when he realized his dream of winning the Cup when he took hold of the cherished trophy from NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman at center ice of the frenzied St. Pete Times Forum.

    "You dream about this day for a long time, obviously," Andreychuk said. "(It's) taken me a while to get to this point and I don't believe you can put into words the things that are going through your mind."

    The triumph completed a rags-to-riches story for the Lightning, who have evolved from a long-struggling expansion team to champs under GM Jay Feaster and coach John Tortorella.

    After being eliminated in the second round last season, the deepest the franchise had ever gone in the playoffs, the two men got together and formed a plan for this season that culminated in a Game 7 in the Stanley Cup Finals.

    "I don't think we really ever expected that," Tortorella admitted. "Again, what we talked about, we just wanted to make our players understand we had a pretty good year. I don't think we answered well in the second round of the playoffs against (New) Jersey. And we wanted our team just to continue to get better.

    "I think you have got to be real careful as an organization trying to grow is not to have it one and out. We just wanted to continue to grow. That's when we gave them that book, we are a good team, but we want to be a great team. It more or less sent a message that way.

    "You don't know what is going to happen, so I still can't figure it out, how quickly it happened for us. It's the group of men in the room. We just try to guide them."

    Well, judging by the results, the Lightning sure were pointed in the right direction.

    The first 40 minutes Monday night were key in the Lightning achieving their dream. The Lightning had the edge in play, shots, and most importantly goals in the first period, taking a 1-0 lead thanks to the gutsy play of Fedotenko.

    Sporting a nasty cut over his right eye, Fedotenko put the Bolts on the board at 13:31, scoring his 11th goal of the playoffs with Tampa Bay on the power play.

    Give a lot of credit for the goal to winger Fredrik Modin, who worked the right side of the ice hard to get the puck and dish it back to Richards at the right point.

    Richards put a wrist shot on goal through a screen that Flames goalie Miikka Kiprusoff kicked out. But Regehr was unable to contain the puck and/or Fedotenko, who fired the rebound into the net for the first goal of the game.

    Fedotenko make it 2-0 at 14:38 of the second period off a tremendous effort by Vincent Lecavalier, who put his considerable skills to work at the right time.

    Lecavalier grabbed the puck in the left wing corner and then ragged the puck while dipsey-doodling in a very small space. He avoided Steve Montador and then a collision with two more players before dishing to Fedotenko in the high slot just before being dropped to the ice by two Flames.

    Lecavalier's pass was breathtaking, but Fedotenko kept it from becoming a forgotten play when he ripped the puck high to Kiprusoff's glove side for his second of the game and 12th of the playoffs. But more importantly for the packed house at the St. Pete Times Forum and the thousands watching outside, the goal gave Tampa a 2-0 lead.

    Leading after two periods was a huge omen of success for the Lightning, who entered the game 14-1 when leading after 40 minutes. In contrast, trailing after two has been a precursor of disaster for the Flames, who were 0-7 when trailing after two going into the game.

    And thanks to the heroics Khabibulin supplied in the third period, the Lightning were able to make an unlikely dream at the start of the 2003-04 season became a reality.

    Stanley better get his sunblock.

Related Topics

Collapse

  • txramsfan
    Poplar Bluff takes care of Lafayette 71-56
    by txramsfan
    http://www.darnews.com/articles/2004/12/20/sports/sports10.txt



    By JEFF McNIELL ~ Assistant Sports Editor
    ST. LOUIS -- All of the sudden, cold-shooting Poplar Bluff seemingly can't miss from the outside.

    "I could even pitch it out to (junior varsity player) Kevin Hutson sitting on the bench and he'll hit one," senior forward Tyler Hansbrough joked.

    Hutson is one of the few Mules not knocking down long shots these days.

    Second-ranked Poplar Bluff got 3-pointers from five different players - and eight in all for the second straight game - to knock off No. 7 Lafayette 71-56 in front of a capacity crowd Saturday afternoon.

    "It shows you how we can play," Hansbrough said. "If we can come in here in front of their home crowd, it really shows us how good we can be."

    The Mules (6-2) went to the perimeter to complete a two-day sweep of two of the state's top-ranked teams. Less than 24 hours after hitting eight 3s in a 30-point blowout of Dexter, ranked fourth in Class 4, Poplar Bluff was 8-for-14 from downtown against the Lancers.

    Reserves Allan Spencer and James Dixon combined for five 3s to help loosen the inside for Hansbrough, who led the way with 27 points and eight rebounds.

    "It's real noticeable that our guards are starting to play better," Poplar Bluff coach John David Pattillo said. "Our guys are coming in off the bench and playing well, and we need that."

    A rematch of last year's Class 5 state semifinal - which the Mules also won - was even most of the way. There were 10 lead changes, two ties and despite falling behind by nine midway through the second quarter, Lafayette (6-2) rallied to retake the lead midway through the third.

    That's when the defending state champions took control.

    With Poplar Bluff trailing 41-40, Spencer canned a 3-pointer from the right wing to spark a 15-2 run that carried over into the opening minutes of the fourth quarter. Spencer had a jumper and transition layin sandwiched by a monster Hansbrough slam as the Mules went ahead 55-43 with 6:32 left.

    Hansbrough, whose putback dunk at the end of the second quarter was waved off by the officials, scowled at the crowd after taking flight and throwing down a hard one-handed fastbreak dunk.

    "I was feeling bad because that's the only one I had, so I felt like I would just crush it and break the whole thing," Hansbrough said. "I wanted to bring the roof down with it."

    Ben Hansbrough went 12-for-15 at the free-throw line en route to 17 points for the Mules, who were 11-for-16 (68.8 percent) from the field in the second half. Spencer scored 12 points and Dixon hit three 3-pointers for nine points.

    Austin Peay recruit Landon Shipley scored a game-high 28 points for the...
    -12-20-2004, 01:37 PM
  • Nick
    Some Questions about Coaching on an 0-4 Team
    by Nick
    It's undeniable in the NFL that in every game, one team will win and one team will lose. Ultimately a team is in large part judged by their record, and fans will seek something to explain the outcome of their game.

    Some will try to find someone to blame for the loss, some will point to the disparity in talent or the effect of injures, some will isolate the poor play of individual players as a focal point, some will point to the coaches. Few will truly give the opposing team credit for winning the game; it's the nature of the fan to hold their team responsible, win or lose.

    We've heard a lot about coaching problems over the last four weeks, and clearly there are issues that can be pointed to and questioned. Pass/run ratio decisions, going for it on fourth down, kicking a long field goal, conservative playcalling, playing an ineffective injured quarterback, not playing to the strength of our roster, halftime adjustments. There is definitely a list of concerning issues that I've seen through four games, many of which played significant roles in the result we see on the scoreboard.

    But let me present a brief recap of events before posing a question to you.

    -In Week One, the Rams played the Carolina Panthers (now 2-2). The Panthers are a team that many pick year in and year out to be a contender in the NFC playoff picture. The Rams went into the locker room at halftime of that game with a 10-7 lead, and extended that lead to 13-7 early in the third quarter. A turnover by Jackson allowed Carolina to take the lead, and they never looked back.

    -In Week Two, the Rams faced the San Francisco *****, a 2-2 team many thought were improving coming into this season. Once again, the Rams went into halftime with a lead, 13-7. But poor tackling allowed the previously bottled up Frank Gore to run for a huge touchdown to take the lead. The Rams and ***** fought back and forth until the final seconds of the game, at which point Jeff Wilkins missed a 56-yard field goal.

    -In Week Three, the Rams headed south for a showdown with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-1 after four weeks). This game was a slugfest. The Bucs had four first half drives. Two ended with punts, one a missed field goal, and one a made field goal. The Rams didn't do much in the first half either, punting twice with an interception and a missed field goal. After the half, Tampa scored a touchdown to make it a 10-0 game, but the Rams hung in there and got it back to one possession before Tampa added 14 points in the mid to late fourth quarter. Jeff Wilkins missed two field goals in this game, Marc Bulger threw three interceptions.

    -Last week the Rams took on what many consider to be one of the best teams in the NFC this season, the 4-0 Dallas Cowboys. Among the Rams wounded was Pro Bowl runner Steven Jackson (out for the game) and Pro Bowl quarterback Marc Bulger (playing with broken ribs). The Rams...
    -10-05-2007, 07:37 PM
  • r8rh8rmike
    What Are Your Most Painful Sports Loses?
    by r8rh8rmike
    What Sports losses really made you want to cry? Here are a few of mine:

    Rams loss to New England in SB 36. This one dominates like no other because of the way that loss went down, the finality of the field goal after an amazing comeback, and the fact that I was there, trapped among Patriot fans with zero ticks on the clock. Talk about a “want to get away” moment.

    L.A. Kings 1993 Stanley Cup Final Game 2 loss to the Montreal Canadiens. After years of mediocre teams, then the excitement of getting Gretzky, then finally making it to the Stanley Cup Final after an epic playoff run, then winning the first game, to leading the second game with only a few minutes left, to the absolutely devastating illegal stick penalty on McSorley that led to an overtime loss and ultimately a series loss. Like a cross-check to the gut.

    USA loss to Russia in the ’72 Olympic Basketball Gold Medal game. Not only because it was the first loss by any U.S. team in Olympic basketball competition, but because it was a travesty of justice as a politically motivated act against the American team. International Olympic officials coming onto the court after a legitimate victory and ordering a series of redo’s until the Russians won, was shameful. The Russians still have our Golds and the IOC still has THEIR Silvers (that we refused to accept).
    -06-13-2005, 08:38 PM
  • RamWraith
    Martz on the Mike
    by RamWraith
    Head Coach Mike Martz
    Tuesday, October 12, 2004

    (Opening statement)
    “Obviously this is a terrific win for this football team and organization. It means a lot in many respects. We are getting better, they did not get disillusioned. There were a lot of young players that learned how to compete, and stay in it. We had some players show up in this game that made plays to help us win this game. Guys like (Shaun) McDonald, Kevin Curtis, of course Brandon (Manumaleuna) with his touchdown catch, and Steven Jackson. DeJuan Groce came in and just did an outstanding job. We’re making progress, and we’re getting better. I know the first half didn’t turn come out the way any of us wanted, but they didn’t give up. When we went in at halftime, it was what we needed to do, it’s a step-by-step process, and here’s how we need to go about it, and they weren’t discouraged, and of course they were able to get the job done. I was very happy and pleased with the effort and how hard they played in the second half. When we had to make a play, somebody made a play. I was very pleased with the effort of the offensive line, particularly Grant Williams in the second half. He gave up a sack in the first half, and a rush on that side, but he came back in the second half and was outstanding on the right side. He was a major reason that Marc (Bulger) was able to move around and make some of the throws that he did. It was a great effort overall as a football team. I though special teams was very solid, the punt return was huge, and I though we covered their kickoffs very well. It was just a solid effort on the kickoff returns. It was Sean Landeta’s best effort so far, in my opinion, in terms of punting the ball. He had great hang time and distance, and there was only one return. Second half, we just need to continue from there, and continue to build. Offensive player of the game, although he had three interceptions, is Marc Bulger. To have three interceptions and to come back and compete and to play at the level that he did, and make those kinds of plays under pressure, is clearly a statement about not just what type of person he is, but the incredible player that he is. Special teams wise, Eric Flowers, four tackles on special teams, just an incredible job. Just a special mention for Trev Faulk again, he had three (tackles). Our defensive player of the game, Tommy Polley, with 10 tackles and a pass broken up. Just a great comeback by Tommy, he was out with a fractured rib, and did a great job coming back and making his presence felt on this football team. All in all obviously it was a terrific win for us, but as all games at this point, we have to have a short memory and get ready for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers here on Monday night.”

    (On Seattle’s defense on third down)
    “They changed quite a bit on third downs. They changed every third down. One was pressure, one was two, one was four, one was man, they changed everything. It all...
    -10-13-2004, 05:26 AM
  • txramsfan
    U.S. tries to close in on World Cup Berth
    by txramsfan
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20050817/...NlYwMlJVRPUCUl


    EAST HARTFORD, Conn. - Claudio Reyna is rested, and ready to help lead the United States closer to a World Cup berth.

    He skipped a pair of World Cup qualifiers in early June, drawing some criticism from Bruce Arena. But the U.S. coach now praises the decision by his captain, who wanted to heal from leg injuries and get ready for what he hopes will be 12 straight healthy months that will take him through next year's World Cup.

    "I just needed a rest. I wanted to get my body right," he said Tuesday, a day ahead of the Americans' World Cup qualifier against Trinidad and Tobago.

    The 32-year-old midfielder missed much of last season with Manchester City because of leg injuries and has played just once with the national team since September, the 2-1 loss at Mexico in a World Cup qualifier in March.

    He missed the game against Guatemala three days later because of a sprained ankle, then wanted a seven-week rest after the English Premier League season ended. Reyna spent the time with his family in the Hamptons and the Caribbean.

    "Being injured for so long is a lot worse mentally than when you're playing and having to deal with just trying to play well," he said. "I was looking at the big picture, the long term. I didn't want to just play through injuries and not really be fit. I think it benefits me and the team if I'm fully fit and mentally rested. I felt I needed it. It was hard because I've never taken a break from the national team since I was 20."

    The U.S. captain most of the time he's been on the field since 1999, he also was captain of Manchester City for the first time last Saturday, filling in while regular captain Sylvain Distin is sidelined for the opening month.

    "He's been our most consistent player that's played in Europe and has played at the highest level for a long time," Landon Donovan said. "He doesn't yell at people. He doesn't say much, but he's just calming. Our team constantly wants to go, go, go, and he's the guy that knows when to settle it down. But he also knows when to go. You always want him on the ball. He's going to make things happen. It's invaluable."

    Arena says Reyna looks fit and thinks the rest was beneficial.

    "The young player look up to him," the coach said. "The older players obviously are friends with him and he brings confidence to the group."

    The United States (4-1) is second in the final round of the North and Central American and Caribbean region with 12 points, one behind Mexico (4-0-1), and can move to the verge of qualifying for its fifth straight World Cup.

    Costa Rica (2-2-1), which plays at Mexico, is third with...
    -08-17-2005, 02:15 PM
Working...
X