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Slapshots: A home away from home

By Times staff writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published April 18, 2003

The Lightning lost its first two home games while continuing its regular-season routine. So after two road victories, Tampa Bay is treating Game 5 at the St. Pete Times Forum as a continuation of the road trip.

After a team meal, the Lightning spent Thursday night in a Tampa hotel.

"I don't want to put too much stock into it," coach John Tortorella said. "But after the road trip we've had, it's good to stay together as a club."

Players, generally, extol the virtues of sleeping in their own beds. But Tortorella is not one to change a winning formula, and there is no denying Tampa Bay played exponentially better at Washington's MCI Center.

"I think it gets rid of some of the distractions," Tortorella said of the mock road trip. "You need to do something different. It certainly didn't work our first two games going through the same routine as the regular season, so we want to try something here. And I believe it will help."

Roy not on the block, Feaster says

Lightning general manager Jay Feaster hears the rumors and knows the Canadian media is reporting that petulant left wing Andre Roy will be traded. But Feaster was adamant while denying it. "I can say that emphatically," he said Thursday. "Andre Roy has had a very good year for us. He's a valuable part of the team."

Roy did not accompany the team to Washington for Games 3 and 4. He was benched in the first period of Game 2 then banished to the locker room for the second and third after a postwhistle roughing penalty led to a Capitals power-play goal.

Roy, who also beefed with referee Kerry Fraser, is under orders to control his emotions and stop taking bad penalties.

"Andre understands the situation and what led up to it," Feaster said. "We're expecting him to understand how he needs to be in the playoffs to be effective."

Roy, an enforcer who had career highs of 10 goals and 17 assists, is available tonight, but an immediate return is not expected. Tortorella always has been reluctant to make changes when things are going well.

Feaster said all lineup decisions are Tortorella's but added, "In this case, with two big wins on the road, I don't see us making any lineup changes unless somebody gets hurt or doesn't play well."

Using the playoffs to make a pitch

Andreas Holmqvist, one of the Lightning's top prospects, will attend Game 5. Tampa Bay hopes the excitement and atmosphere help persuade the Swedish defenseman to sign and participate in next season's rookie and training camps.

"It's all part of the recruiting and development process," Feaster said. "This is what a good organization does. It brings in somebody like Holmqvist and talks to him and works with him. We're going to do our best over the summer to get him signed."

Holmqvist, 21, the 61st overall pick in 2001, had four goals, nine assists and 28 penalty minutes in 43 games for Linkopings of the Swedish elite league. Feaster said scouting reports indicate his puck-moving skills are almost NHL caliber.

Holmqvist will stay in Tampa for the rest of the month and begin a workout program provided by strength and conditioning coach Eric Lawson.

Goaltending prospect Joe Pearce, the 135th pick of 2002, is in town to spend a few days with goaltenders coach Jeff Reese.

Feaster said Pierce, 20, who will attend Boston College, paid for his plane ticket and hotel bill so he does not forfeit his college eligibility. The 6-5, 215-pounder played 37 games this season for amateur USHL Chicago and went 18-15, including three overtime losses, with a 2.91 goals-against average and .892 save percentage.

Returning to rookie camp

Feaster said the Lightning will participate in a rookie camp next season. The camp and round-robin tournament, run by the Red Wings, will be Sept. 4-9 in Traverse City, Mich. It includes the Wild, Blues, Thrashers and Capitals.

"It's an opportunity to evaluate the younger players we drafted and do it against the prospects of other organizations," Feaster said. "It also is an opportunity to interact with these players and help them to understand what it means to prepare and do things right in our organization."

Feaster said the Lightning's top-performing prospects will be invited to the main training camp.

The last time the Lightning participated in a rookie camp was in September 2001 in Hull, Quebec. It featured a major brawl with the Panthers that got then-general manager Rick Dudley so upset he pushed over a soda machine.

Feaster said the Red Wings' camp has a no-fighting rule.

"This tournament has the reputation of being one of the classiest and best-run of them all," Feaster said.

Historical home-ice (dis)advantage

A road team winning the first four games of a seven-game series is not as rare as you might think. It happened in last season's West quarterfinal (Red Wings and Canucks), the 2001 East semifinal (Sabres and Penguins), 2000 East semifinal (Penguins and Flyers), 1999 West quarterfinal (Avalanche and Sharks) and 1999 West semifinal (Avalanche and Red Wings).

For what it's worth, teams that lost the first two won three of those series.

Game 5 tickets remain available

The usual 200 $8 tickets go on sale at 9 a.m. today at the box office and Ticketmaster online and by calling (813) 301-6600 or (813) 287-8844. Spokesman Bill Wickett said the team sold 5,000 tickets in the past two days and as of 5 p.m. Thursday, about 3,800 remained.

TONIGHT: LIGHTNING VS. CAPITALS

WHEN/WHERE: 7; St. Pete Times Forum, 401 Channelside Drive, Tampa.

TV/RADIO: Sunshine; WDAE-AM 620.

THE LOWDOWN: This is Game 5 of the best-of-seven East quarterfinal. The series is tied 2-2. ... Lightning C Tim Taylor's 66.7 faceoff winning percentage was tops in the playoffs, entering Thursday, among players with at least 40 draws. LW Dave Andreychuk was sixth at 60.9 percent. ... RW Martin St. Louis was tied for second with six points. Capitals RW Jaromir Jagr also has six points. ... Washington's power play was tops in the playoffs at 25 percent (4-for-16). ... The Lightning was second-worst on the power play at 5.6 percent (1-for-18) and had the worst penalty kill at 75 percent. ... Lightning G Nikolai Khabibulin's .872 save percentage was second-worst. ... The Capitals' Peter Bondra led the league with 21 shots. Lightning C Vinny Lecavalier was tied for third with 17.

-- Compiled by Damian Cristodero.

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