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Another 1-1 tie

16

September

For the second straight day, the Lightning's scrimmage ended 1-1, but this one was a far cry from Saturday's effort that left coach John Tortorella so dissatisfied. "We played at a much higher tempo,'' he said. "It was a much better game.''

You know what, I'm going to ride this goaltending situation till the bitter end. No matter what the arguments against it, what happens at that position will determine how the team does this season. So it was very cool today that Marc Denis played lights out, officially stopping 17 shots in 32 minutes, though I counted at least four more. Denis, as we know, is in a battle with Johna Holmqvist and Karri Ramo for two spots. Holmqvist probably has the inside track to be No. 1, and Ramo put on a show Saturday and was solid again Sunday and has stopped 32 of 33 shots in two scrimmages. Denis has stopped 26 of 27 shots in two scrimmages. Sure, scrimmages are just warmups for the preseason. But after his dreadful 2006-07, Denis has to build confidence with coaches and players. Denis looked confident in net and his positioning was terrific not to mention his anticipation. His right-leg stop of Marty St. Louis and adjustment to stop Vinny Prospal on the rebound was excellent.

Denis didn't have a lot to say after the scrimmage. He acknowledged how "the microscope" is on the team's unsettled situation in net, and said, politely, it probably is best for him to step back from extensive media coverage he described with a wink as perhaps being "too much. ... I'm sure you noticed I'm a little less cooperative.''

Said goaltenders coach Jeff Reese:  "I'm sure he doesn't like what's been written. I know one thing, he did not want to be traded. He did not want to go anywhere. He wants to finish what he started here. He wants to put last season behind him. You guys (reporters) make that difficult for him to do that. There were a bunch of articles written before a puck was dropped, not only on him but on the goaltending in general. So far, he's put everything behind him. He's starting fresh. He looks very sharp the first few days.''

I'll have much more on Denis in tomorrow's paper.

For what it's worth after two scrimmages, the fourth line with center Craig MacDonald, Nick Tarnasky and Andre Roy looks great. MacDonald sparked Tarnasky's goal when he knocked Chris Gratton off the puck.

Michel Ouellet scored with 1:06 left in the final period. It was a big goal for Ouellet, who was signed over the summer to add offensive punch but had been almost invisible in two scrimmages. Ouellet agreed he had not played well (he is trying to get used to new linemates) but said the goal should loosen him up some. But I actually liked this quote: "I'm the kind of guy who plays in a system very well. Now we're playing like summer hockey. When everyone is on the same page, it will be a lot easier.''

Left wing Andreas Karlsson, who played so well Saturday, got a look on the second line with center Brad Richards and Ouellet. "He's fair that way,'' Karlsson said of Tortorella. "If you play well, he gives you ice time.'' No word on if this is a permanent thing, probably not given it is so early and there is no way to give up on Jan Hlavac so early. Hlavac, a free agent signing, also has struggled and was dropped to the third line ... for now.

Tortorella went out of his way to praise defenseman Mike Lundin, saying, "He's had a good couple of days here. He's handled himself well.''

Tortorella said cuts will come after Saturday's game against the Capitals and bring the number of players in camp to 25 or 26 from the current 33. He said final cuts likely won't come until after the Sept. 29 preseason finale in Dallas. 

[Last modified: Sunday, August 16, 2009 4:38pm]

    

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