Thursday, November 28, 2013

A bittersweet return for Lecavalier ends in defeat

As a returning home town hero, Vincent Lecavalier now with a new logo on his chest, was welcomed back by the Tampa Bay Lightning for his first appearance since he was bought out of his contract and signed by the Philadelphia Flyers following the 2012-13 season. The inevitable meeting of the two clubs happened on Thanksgiving eve, a bittersweet moment for Lecavalier as he returned to a placed he had called home for 14 seasons full of hockey and memories.

“It’s unreal, I don’t even know what to say, it’s just a great honor. Everybody knows how I feel about Tampa, it’s just a great community a lot of good people here. So it’s definitely a great honor and for sure I have to thank the Lightning for that.” Lecavalier humbly spoke of his tribute and award that night.

Any club would be honored to have a hockey player like Vincent Lecavalier, who’s long list of accomplishments on the ice include: being chosen 1st in the 1998 entry draft, lifting the Stanley Cup in 2004 and celebrating his 50th goal during the 2006-07 season where he later won the Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy as the NHL’s lead goal scorer. But, his accomplishments extended far past the ice, and last night after a 60-second video tribute thanking Lecavalier for the memories, Lecavalier was presented with the Community Hero award for his work with All Children’s Hospital and the Vincent Lecavalier Pediatric Cancer and Blood disorder Center at ACH. A leader on the ice and a humanitarian, Vincent Lecavalier is as classy as they come.

Amidst all the pompous circumstance, the Philadelphia Flyers and the Tampa Bay Lighting faced off for a hockey game. Through the first period the Flyers were no match for the back pressure and quick lightning speed that they faced. Craig Berube, knowing the importance of this game to Lecavalier played his line (Lecavalier, B. Schenn, Simmonds), a line that had combined for numerous goals recently. While the light shone brightly on Lecavalier, Downie also returned to the Tampa Bay Lightning arena for the first time since playing parts of the past 4 seasons as a member of the blue and white.

The Lightning finally broke through on the board at the half way mark of the second period and put up two goals. As they outshot the Flyers by double each period, the Lightning proved to be a difficult team to gain on and with the Flyers less than stellar 3rd period record the task appeared daunting but they had 20 minutes to turn the game around.

The Lightning were piling on the goals, adding another one during the 3rd period. With heavy hearts the Flyers heads dropped a little, they were down 3 goals and were all pushing to win for Lecavalier. Lecavalier gave 100% effort win or lose, last night he played an excellent hockey game and drove the rest of the team to rise to the occasion, especially after he finally broke through for the Flyers. The go ahead goal was on the board and 40 seconds later a glimmer of hope for the Flyers broke through as they clinched their second goal, cutting the Lightning lead making it a one goal hockey game. As soon as the hope and ambition was back in their hearts and minds a bad turn-over at the blue line by none other than Lecavalier gave way to an empty net goal and just like that the Lightning were up by two again with less than a minute to play.

“It was very weird stepping out on the ice, but obviously we didn’t win and I’m disappointed in that,” said former Lightning captain now Philadelphia Flyer Vincent Lecavalier. “But just skating on the ice and seeing the fans be supportive, that means a lot. I have nothing but great things to say about the fans and this organization.”

It was momentous for Lecavalier to score during this game but his turn over on the blue line was unfortunate, also unavoidable as the puck had an uncontrollable bounce. At times the Flyers played well but for the most part the Lightning out played them. Last night they needed more shots on goal, to step up their offense and fore-checking. They had an unusual lack of physicality last night that did not add to their game and they need to adapt to the game of hockey which is becoming less about big size and more about quickness.

The Flyers, who had a slow start to their season and then quickly became the hottest team in the league seemingly forgetting how to lose are back on a losing streak and having a roller coaster season. Hopefully they will leave their losing streak in Florida as they head back north and look to claim some revenge against the Winnipeg Jets, as they face them for the second time this season.

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