What 2 watch 4
So let's continue the discussion from last weekend's story in the paper on the Lightning's burning questions heading into camp. My top 10 story lines are the goaltending, Vinny Lecavalier, Vinny Prospal, Ryan Craig, Andreas Karlsson, the rebuilt defense, Brad Richards' line, Chris Gratton and Dan Boyle.
The goaltending is easy. The way I see it, all the Lightning needs is average work from whoever is in net (and by average I mean a .900 save percentage) for the team to be a contender in the East. Vinny Prospal also is a given as is how Michel Ouellet and Jan Hlavac mesh with Richards. Gratton, well, he might be the most important acquisition of the summer given his goal-scoring ability and faceoff prowess. The defense will have to cope with the loss of Nolan Pratt and Cory Sarich and perhaps the addition of one new player (Dan Jancevski or Matt Smaby, perhaps?) who have little NHL experience. And Ryan Craig, left off the top four lines for now, at least, has to prove his balky right knee is sound and he can be a more consistent scorer.
So what else? Give me your list. What are the things you will be watching when training camp opens on Thursday at the Ice Sports Forum in Brandon. Why are they important? And do you see any solutions for your concerns or questions?
You know it's not all serious here. We let you know about the joyous occasions in the players' lives as well. So let's start with defenseman Dan Boyle, who got engaged on a summer trip to France to Amber Esposito, a hairdresser from Indian Rocks Beach he met in January 2002, the first week he was in town after being acquired from the Panthers. He said he needed a haircut and walked into the high-end Tampa salon in which she worked. They became friends and took them more than a year to start dating. And even after all this time, Boyle joked, "She can stand me.''
Babies also are coming. Right wing Marty St. Louis said he and wife Heather will have their third child, and third son, in January. Forward Ryan Craig said he and wife Jaydee will have their first child, a son, in December.
And just as a quick update, captain Tim Taylor is home from the hospital after last week's hip surgery and going through what wife Jodi called "pretty intense'' therapy.