Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Story So Far

Photo by Me

It's my opinion that I lapsed into a coma last night. I meant to update last night before going to sleep, it just didn't happen. So, here it is. The just a little past the halfway point of the season for the National Hockey League. As it stands tonight the Tampa Bay Lightning are tied for first in the Southeast division and second in the entire Eastern Conference. Let me just say wow. Going into this season I had hoped for a better start, more consistent play, hopefully some more wins. My expectations have been absolutely shot through the stratosphere. Of course there's the play of Steven Stamkos and Marty St. Louis to talk about. But I have noticed quite a few other guys who go out every night and play every shift so insanely hard it's difficult not to notice them. So tonight, it's time to recognize some of my unsung heroes for the Bolts so far:

1. Nate Thompson: Apparently, he is right out of the mold of what Coach Boucher wants in his players. I read an article earlier this year where the boys in the lockerroom had taken to calling him Textbook or Nate Boucher because of this. Nate seems to almost always be where to need him. Whether it's chipping in defensively or scoring the game winning overtime goal against the Rangers on New Year's day. He's not afraid to get into battles and it's nice to see that he is being rewarded with goals and ice time.

2. Adam Hall: Hall is another guy's name who doesn't show up too often on the score sheet, although he has chipped in 6 goals. Whenever I am at a game, Adam always catches my eye because he always seems to be skating with flat out speed. To keep the puck in, to cut off the progress of an opponent down the ice, etc. He just works hard. And that deserves to be noticed.

3. Sean Bergenhem: Bergy has been a great surprise for me. He came in from the Islanders riding a reputation as being a great skater with a penchant for scoring some impressive goals. I've come to view him as a guy who always ends up with breakaway chances. For some reason, the puck always seems to end up on his stick when he is alone in the offensive zone. He's also (pun ahead) Lightning quick and a pretty physical player. This is why I love Finnish players. They play hard, skate well, and have great hands. He's been down with the flu lately, so wishing him a speedy recovery.

4. Victor Hedman: Yeah, I know what some of my Lightning friends are going to say about this one. But I have to give the kid credit. He has now played one and a half seasons in the NHL and his play has improved drastically. He's starting to read plays better and using his big size to his advantage. I tend to cut young defensemen a fair amount of slack because I think it takes longer for them to learn and excel at their position than it might be for a forward. Especially given the drastic change in playing style from last season. This kid is going to be a monster when he gets it all together.

There it is. I am attending my first home game of the second half of the season tomorrow night. Lightning vs. Capitals. This one is going to be a barn burner.

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