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Slapshots

Times staff writers
Published May 23, 2004

Can't touch this

Lightning captain Dave Andreychuk was presented with the Prince of Wales trophy, given to the Eastern Conference champion, after the game, but he didn't touch it. He wasn't showing disrespect to the NHL, but respect to tradition.

Typically, players don't touch the conference championship trophies for fear it might jinx them from touching the Stanley Cup.

"I have watched quite a few years, and I have watched ever since I was a kid," Andreychuk said. "That trophy is going to sit up in our foyer in this building, but I think we're looking for the big one. I just felt like our job is not done."

Cullimore returns

The Lightning went with seven defensemen as Jassen Cullimore played his first game since injuring his right wrist in Game 3 of the East quarterfinal with the Islanders. To make room, Tampa Bay scratched center Martin Cibak and went with just three centers instead of the usual four.

Big boys cry, too

Martin St. Louis was fine during the team's postgame celebration on the ice, but the true depth of his emotions overcame him when he reached the locker room.

"That's when I lost it, when I walked in here," St. Louis said. "I cried like a little boy. Certain things you can't control, and after a hard-fought battle with the emotions, it's almost good to let it out."

The back-and-forth nature of the series, not to mention the heartbreaking overtime loss in Game 6, was a test of every player's mental toughness.

"You try to stay composed and stay focused, and it's really tough," St. Louis said. "It's a roller-coaster ride: win one, lose one. Now it's back to best-of-seven."

Up next ...

As emotional as Saturday's victory was, there is one little detail. The Lightning has another round to go.

The Flames, who haven't won a Cup since Terry Crisp, the Lightning's first coach, was behind the bench in 1989, will be here Tuesday for Game 1 of the Stanley Cup final.

"We have been watching their games on our nights off," center Brad Richards said. "They are relentless. They never quit. Their feet are always moving. It's going to be a tough challenge."

Lightning coach John Tortorella planned to celebrate with his closest companion throughout the playoffs: his VCR. Tampa Bay played Calgary only once during the regular season, and Tortorella has plenty of work to do before Tuesday.

"I only have a few hours of turnaround. So I have my tapes ready to go, and I have my cot ready to go," Tortorella said. "I'm not trying to be an idiot about it, but we practice Monday. And I haven't watched Calgary, and we haven't played them enough to understand them. So we have work to do. Why celebrate? We're not done."

Playing nice

Tortorella spent part of the Eastern Conference final in a verbal jostling match with Flyers coach Ken Hitchcock. Tortorella promises that will not happen in the Cup final.

"I tell you what right now. I am not getting involved in any (expletive) in this series," Tortorella said. "I have too much respect for that man, (Calgary coach Darryl Sutter) and their team and how they have done it. (So) don't expect me to be involved in any (expletive). This is the finals. I am not going to get involved, lose any integrity of what these two teams have done to get there."

Dressed for success

Tom Wilson, Lightning CEO and governor, wore his lucky sports coat Saturday. The Lightning is 7-0 when he wears his brown jacket.

"And I hate this jacket," Wilson said. "Well, now I love this jacket."

Wilson was joined in the Lightning locker room by owner Bill Davidson, who, it is believed, had never been in the Lightning room after a game.

"He came in and shook all of our hands," Cullimore said. "I'm not sure he knows any of us."

At the top of the heap

With an assist, St. Louis took over the playoff scoring lead with 18 points. He is one ahead Richards, who had two assists, and Calgary's Jarome Iginla. Lightning forward Fredrik Modin, who scored a goal, is tied with Philadelphia's Keith Primeau for fourth with 16.

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