Day 2 had its moments
Aside from the good news that defenseman Brad Lukowich (left ankle tendinitis) is apparently okay to play in today's scrimmage, the players finished their fitness testing with three 15-lap skates.
There was plenty of good, from Doug Janik, continuing to impress after Thursday's sprint performance, to Brad Richards, Mathieu Darche and Ryan Craig, who has begun in good form his attempt to save his fourth-line position. "I'm here to prove something and make an impact,'' he said. "I may not be as pretty a skater but I've tried to improve.''
The most interesting moment, though, came after defenseman Matt Smaby finished the third of his 15-lap skates. Looking as if he was about to have a coronary, Smaby laid flat on the ice after he finished. He finally got to his knees and coach John Tortorella came over and gave him a tap on the pants with his stick. Torts remembered full well how bad Smaby fared last season. The coach said he does not believe Smaby even finished the exercise. Torts said he wanted Smaby to know, the effort to finish was the most important thing. "I told him, 'I don't give a (bleep) about your time. I just saw you get through it this year.' He couldn't get through it last year and he barely got through it this year but he didn't quit.''
Neither did Andre Roy, though he, too, struggled at times. Still, Tortorella said the way Roy fought to finish all his skating and running in the first two days of camp, solidified in his mind he will try to give Roy more time on the ice during the early part of the season. "The way he approached himself the first two days, the way he looks, has certainly opened that door,'' Tortorella said. I have more on this story in tomorrow's paper.
I also have a larger story on the goaltending situation that will start to shake out in tomorrow's first scrimmage. Here's a sample: Even though Marc Denis declined my interview request, I spoke to goaltenders coach Jeff Reese, who spoke for Denis and Johan Holmqvist and Karri Ramo, the two other contenders for Tampa Bay's two goalie spots. "I think to be quite honest with you, all three of them would like to prove a lot of people wrong here. We're (bleepin') tired of hearing about goaltending. I know I am. I can just imagine how they feel. I think they've got a lot to prove and I think they'd like to silence a lot of people.''
One note about the 10 a.m. scrimmages. Because of the small number of players (33), there only will be one game. With everyone packed onto one side of the Ice Sports Forum, good seats will be tough to get, so get there EARLY.
Torts said he might mix and match some lines. The most likely switch will be with Andreas Karlsson. Slotted to play left wing on Chris Gratton's third line, could get time with Brad Richards and Vinny Lecavalier. If you recall the playoffs last season, Karlsson, who did pretty much nothing all year, shined a bit when he was put with Richards.