Tampa Bay Lightning Finally Snap Skid Amid Vinny Rumors (Again)

JC De La TorreAnalyst IIIDecember 6, 2009

Mike Smith had perhaps his best game as goaltender of the Tampa Bay Lightning while the slumbering Bolts offense finally rumbled to life in Tampa Bay's 4-0 blanking of the New York Islanders.

The Bolts dominated as the rumor mill begins to churn once again with the rumor that seemingly never dies—Vincent Lecavalier to Montreal. More on that in a second.

First let's talk about Smith, who was Jekyll last night instead of Mr. Hyde. Smith stood on his head, making save after brilliant save against the Isles.

"Personally, I've been working really hard lately and I haven't been rewarded for it. I've played some good hockey, but pucks have gone in the net and ultimately we've been losing hockey games that we need to win," Smith said. "I think more importantly it's big for our team. We've been sliding a little bit right now in the standings and it's important to stay close to the pack at this time of year and not separate yourself too far."

"Mike Smith was excellent," coach Rick Tocchet said. "He made some really good saves out there. He was the difference maker for us."

Meanwhile, Victor Hedman got his first career NHL goal and Lecavalier looked like he actually cared, feeding two gorgeous passes on two third period goals and getting himself several scoring chances throughout the contest.

Vinny showed passion and a physical style of play that have been missing for a while. In fact, the entire hockey team really displayed a physical approach to the game, outhitting the Isles 17 to eight.

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Martin St. Louis also finally found himself on the score sheet, adding two assists, including one on the power play. The Lightning had gone 0-for-16 on the man advantage until finally breaking through with a goal late against New Jersey the previous night, Tampa Bay was 2-for-4 against New York.

The much maligned penalty killing unit also finally came to play. Tampa Bay came into the night among the worst at killing penalties, but the Bolts were solid against the men from Long Island, going 6-for-6 on the kill.

The victory snapped a four game losing streak for the Bolts and vaulted them into eighth place in the Eastern Conference.

Of course, there's not a hockey season without the media folks from Montreal getting the Habs fans all excited about a rumor that their team may acquire Vincent Lecavalier.

Both TSN and ESPN commentators have mentioned in recent days that Lecavalier could be involved in a deal to Montreal. ESPN's Pierre LeBrun also speculates the Rangers and Kings could also be suitors.

The supposed scenario is that Lecavalier is apparently unhappy now that he's the second line center in Tampa Bay and is playing lethargic because of it.

The only problem is that there's a no movement clause in Lecavalier's contract. After the Montreal media tried to force a division between Lightning General Manager Brian Lawton and Lecavalier, Lawton wouldn't dare come to Lecavalier with a trade request.

So any potential deal for Lecavalier would need to be initiated by Lecavalier's want to exit the Lightning.

While definitely not playing up to his potential, Lecavalier has not indicated any desire to leave Tampa Bay. If he's content—and making $10 million dollars a year with a beautiful home on the beach will definitely make you content—he's not going to want to move to the powder-keg that is the mecca of hockey.

The Canadian press have been trying to force this move ever since Lecavalier raised the Stanley Cup. It wouldn't surprise me if the organization wouldn't mind Lecavalier moving on, but they gave up that right last season.

Lecavalier is not going anywhere...unless he wants to. His team, meanwhile, may have finally gotten out of their funk and can resume their new role as a play-off contender.

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