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Tampa Bay Lightning is very popular in Quebec

Put me in, Coach

Forward Nate Thompson, left, scored on five straight breakaways against Dwayne Roloson in a practice at Mont-Tremblant. That not only sent fans into a frenzy, but it sent a message to Boucher that Thompson wants to be in a shootout, something he was not last season.

"I don't know what else I have to do," Thompson said.

On his first breakaway, Thompson took his stick off the puck, kicked it to himself and beat Roloson with a forehand.

"That was imagination, and somehow, it just happened," Thompson said.

Stamkos wondered if Thompson has "the guts" to try it during a game.

"I would," Thompson said. "If I had a chance, it would either be all or nothing. I would either look like a hero or look like a goat."

Cut and run

How do Lightning players congratulate a teammate's great game? In the case of prospect Brett Connolly, they cut his dress pants down to shorts after he scored twice in Thursday's 4-0 victory over the Canadiens.

"You need a new tailor," teammate Ryan Malone told him.

Connolly seemed to take it well and called it "a good prank."

As of this writing, there were no suspects.

Rays fever

The Lightning embraced the Rays' improbable playoff berth.

During Saturday's morning skate in Quebec City, players took a team photo holding a Rays banner and e-mailed it to Texas, where the AL Division Series got started. A Rays banner hung outside the Tampa Bay locker room, and coach Guy Boucher sent manager Joe Maddon a congratulatory text.

"Love the support from Guy and the boys," Maddon tweeted.

Family matter

Lightning season-ticket holders Brent and Mary Jo McDonald live half the year in Clearwater and half in Mont-Tremblant. They even delayed their autumn relocation to watch practices at Mont-Tremblant Arena.

Their kids, 7-year-old twins Alec and Alicia, used the tops of a pair of unused nets outside the boards as hammocks and had a picture taken with Lecavalier.

"I met your mommy and daddy," Alec said to Lecavalier. "You're just like them."

Showtime

Marty St. Louis wowed the crowd of several thousand at Saturday's morning skate at the Pepsi Colisee by scoring on Mathieu Garon during a breakaway contest with a backward-skating backhand: "Try something fun. It's a way to give back."

The team got a standing ovation when it saluted the crowd from center ice.

Unfinished business

GM Steve Yzerman said he had yet to hear from the league about a disciplinary hearing concerning Ryan Malone's head shot on Montreal's Chris Campoli on Saturday. The Lightning does not play until Friday's season opener, so there still is time. … Yzerman said final cuts likely will be Tuesday. … Defenseman Mattias Ohlund will have an MRI exam today on his painful right knee.

The Lightning has become the second team in the province of Quebec behind the Canadiens. That's saying something given there are five other Canadian teams in the NHL. • The support was the revelation of a six-day trip, three days in Mont-Tremblant ahead of a game in Montreal and three days in Quebec City before Saturday's preseason finale and rematch with the Canadiens at the Pepsi Colisee. • "I would say they are the second team," said Le Presses Francois Gagnon, who has covered the Canadiens since 1998. • Why? "The players," he said.

The Lightning has five Quebecers on its roster — three more than the Canadiens — including Montreal natives Vinny Lecavalier and Marty St. Louis. Coach Guy Boucher and assistants Dan Lacroix and Marty Raymond also are from Quebec and were hired, to the dismay of Montreal fans, from the Canadiens organization.

About 500 fans packed each of Tampa Bay's three practices at Mont-Tremblant. They chanted "Guy, Guy, Guy" when Boucher hit the ice for the first time.

"Quebecers like to see Quebecers succeed," Boucher said. "I know that for many years, there's been less French-speaking Quebecers playing for the Canadiens. That's something that's talked about every year. And when they see another team take Quebecers, it stirs things up we can't control. But for us, it's good because it gives us extra fans."

Even Steven Stamkos, from the Toronto area, got a standing ovation.

"It's always fun to hear that reception," Stamkos said. "You try to hide back the smile, but you can't. They're just passionate hockey fans."

And passionate about the Lightning.

"Especially," Gagnon said, "that they are winning."

Other snapshots from the trip:

Tampa Bay Lightning is very popular in Quebec 10/02/11 [Last modified: Sunday, October 2, 2011 10:52pm]
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