Saturday, April 21, 2007

Western Union...

Hey, if a lion is sleeping, do you walk up to it and poke it with a stick?

Oh, sorry…Tampa was “sending a message” at the end of the game last night in New Jersey.

Down 2-0 with the clock winding under two minutes to go, and the net empty, the Lighting watched as Scott Gomez scored an empty-net goal. Then, the fun started.

It wasn’t an especially chippy game as these things go, with clubs getting more familiar (and annoyed) with each other in a playoff series – a total of six minor penalties had been called in the game. Then, with Andre Roy trying to start something, anything, to “send the message,” he ended up scrapping with Michael Rupp. Roy got a game misconduct added for his trouble (maybe the league will send him a message).

The boys weren’t done yet sending their message. Nolan Pratt and Jamie Langenbrunner added to their scoresheet entries with a fighting major apiece. Ryan Craig got a roughing and a misconduct. The officials evened up the latter with a misconduct to Erik Rasmussen. But by that time, the message had been sent. Ooops…maybe not. Devil assistant John MacLean and Lighting coach John Tortorella engaged in a wonderful one act play in mime, making a series of menacing gestures at one another. Lou Lamoriello looked on with a beatific expression on his face – if your idea of “beatific” is this guy…

Who, come to think of it, sorta looks like Lou, just with more hair...

OK, Jersey had a message for the Lightning, too. We’re done with the preliminaries. In what amounted to the first in a best-of-three, Martin Brodeur showed up. 31 shots faced, 31 shots turned away. How's that for a message?

One had the feeling watching what unfolded in the last two minutes of the game that Tampa was less “sending a message” than expressing a very large measure of frustration. Trouble is, you poke the lion with that stick the consequences are not likely to be pleasant.

And speaking of messages . . . what was the one sent to Ruslan Fedotenko? He was given a sweater and a seat on the bench. That was the extent of his participation, having logged a conspicuous 0:00 in ice time. The message might be, “wise up, Ruslan,” but The Peerless thinks it really is, “I’m just a big honking asshole.”

The teams go again, tomorrow. The Peerless will be surprised if the game finishes with Tampa within three goals of Jersey.

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