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Chatting Hockey With SBN's Raw Charge, Part II

That's Nate Thompson. In case you were at all curious what the bloke looked like. Alan Maglaque-US PRESSWIRE
That's Nate Thompson. In case you were at all curious what the bloke looked like. Alan Maglaque-US PRESSWIRE

We pummel the good folks at Raw Charge with a few more questions today (be sure to check out part I), mainly on Matt Carle, why they won't simply give us Steven Stamkos, a look at our young bucks in net and we even gave them an out to mock B.J. Crombeen but they're too classy for that.

...fortunately for you for I'm not. Crombeen is terrible and here is Desbiens whacking on him to prove it.

Aren't I just the worst?

Nucks Misconduct: We applaud the signing of Matt Carle since it helped steel-toe Philly's defensive "depth" off the cliff and, in turn, made Nashville fans crank up the saddest Miley Cyrus song they could find on the FM band. That said can you promise Yzerman won't get nostalgic and move him to Detroit? And if you can't promise that can you at least share an amusing anecdote to distract us from that possibility?

Raw Charge: While Yzerman undoubtedly still has an occasional day here or there when he has to remind himself that all telephone numbers don't begin with the 313 area code, most of his major moves with Tampa Bay have been with teams that don't play their home games in Detroit. Maybe we're gullible, but the fact that Lecavalier, St. Louis or Stamkos weren't traded to the Red Wings is enough to earn our trust that a pipeline feeding Detroit from Tampa Bay isn't something to worry about. As such, we're of the belief that Matt Carle is going to be here much longer than the previous 12-game stint he posted with the Lightning in 2008-09.

That said, Yzerman is Jedi. And inscrutable. His most effective mind trick is when he tells you what his plan is, how that plan is expected to benefit the team...and then he does what he said he would do! For example, around the time of last year's trade deadline, Yzerman announced, "These moves are made to make us better in the future. Any situation that comes along from today through the trade deadline into the offseason, we're willing to look at...We need young players. We need to draft well. We need to build that way and this was an opportunity to take advantage of that and acquire more picks, relatively high picks." As the media scuttled off to speculate what he really meant by that mumbo jumbo while contemplating the merits of landing either Roberto Luongo or Dominik Hasek, Yzerman went out and acquired seven players (4 under the age of 25) and three more picks within the first four rounds of the 2012 draft. Verrrrrry sneaky.

So Carle isn't going anywhere. Unless Yzerman looks you in the eye and says he is. Then, maybe.

NM: Both our teams have passed the goalie baton to a highly touted back-up who hasn't weathered the regular season as a starter yet. It sure sounds like Yzerman has complete faith in Anders Lindback. Do you?

RC: One of Raw Charge's writers, CAustin, comes at this from the fairly unique perspective of having followed Anders Lindback while he was with the Nashville Predators the past two years (she is Nashville). She finds him to be "staggeringly good, but so very, very raw" while paying him the compliment that "you almost can't tell Lindback and Pekka Rinne apart in the net". She does have reservations, which have been published before on Raw Charge, about how he will mesh with Lightning goaltending coach Frantz Jean (who has worked with Rollie Melanson for years, by the way). There had apparently been "communication issues" between Jean and former Lightning goalie Dwayne Roloson last season that almost certainly had some level of impact on Roli's disastrous season. Just how much is unclear.

The issue with Anders is that he's very young, and it's impossible to predict with any accuracy what a goalie who has played in only 44 professional games in North America (38 NHL games and 6 AHL games) will do in the future. That said, we expect Lindback to get somewhere around 55-60% of the starts. It could be more if he does well. It's also expected of him to need time to grow into the role, with some consistency issues this first season. He hasn't been a starter since his last year in Sweden (2009-10). But Nashville Predators goalie coach Mitch Korn emphasized Lindback's adaptability and his preference for borrowing from lots of different styles.

All in all, we're reasonably confident with Lindback and Mathieu Garon in net, especially when you consider that this is a franchise aiming at long term building and not the quick-fix.

NM: Stamkos is filthy (you suuuure you don't want Luongo for him?), St. Louis is one of the best 35+ year old scoring threats around, Malone (presumably) can still crash and bang with the best of them and - though it's not 2007 anymore - Lecavalier has strung together a ridiculous stretch of 12 straight 20+ goal seasons. Tell us more about the unsung heroes on offense, especially whether you think Teddy Purcell can reach the next level or fall back (we call that the Mason Raymond development track) and what you expect from Brett Connolly's sophomore campaign.

RC: This question is harder to answer because of the roster turnover among the bottom-6 the past two years. You cited all the top guys at the onset, so saying "unsung" about any of them wouldn’t work (…as if that would have worked before?).

One guy who has caught Tampa Bay fans attention and did more with less, defied expectations and all that is Tom Pyatt. The guy was signed in 2011 as extra depth… We thought he was a 4th liner or bound for the AHL. Mistake. While Pyatt did get mixed up in a playing-time merry-go-round early in the season, he cemented a place in the bottom six, playing the role of the pest as well as putting together 12 goals and 7 assists.

The other favorite who won’t grab headlines but is relied upon mightily is Nate Thompson. Though he’s oft looked at as a 4th liner, he plays in every situation and draws faceoffs. At times, he’ll be mixed in with the top-6. His numbers aren’t that impressive (minus-23 last season, 9 goals, 6 assists in 68 games) but his contribution is huge (49.5 faceoff win percentage, 2nd best on a weak faceoff team).

As for Connolly’s sophomore season, he’ll likely start the year in the AHL if there is a lockout. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, as the AHL situation is more for learning than being thrown to the wolves in the NHL. There will be a battle for playing time, though, as the Lightning’s AHL affiliate (the Syracuse Crunch) is stocked as is.

As for Purcell – it’s odd, really. He’s come on well in the 2nd half of the last two seasons. His skill level is there, but he seems lost and unmotivated in the first part of the season to the point where he’d find himself in the press box. His new contract is a carrot that we hope leads him to a consistent effort all season long.

NM: One word association time! We say "B.J. Crombeen" and you say:

RC: "Bumper-car". He bangs into everything and keeps driving.

[Part III focusing on some rookies and where the Bolts will end up in the Southeast will be up tomorrow morning. Our second part reviewing the Canucks is up and running over at Raw Charge]