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For their own good
Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
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First half recap
By TOM JONES
Published January 5, 2006
Lightning beat writer Tom Jones breaks down the first half of the season:
BEST GAME: Opening night. Hockey returns. The banner goes up. The Lightning pounds Carolina 5-2, and all seems normal in Hockey Bay, USA. The road looked smooth, but no one could imagine some of the potholes ahead.
WORST GAME: There have been a few clunkers, such as 8-2 to New Jersey and 6-3 to Detroit, but the game that started to shake the team's confidence was a 6-4 loss to Atlanta at home Nov. 1 in which the Lightning blew several leads. That started a season-high six-game losing streak.
FIRST-HALF MVP: There are plenty of choices. Fredrik Modin and Vinny Prospal lead the team with 17 goals. Vinny Lecavalier and Marty St. Louis, after a sluggish start, have returned to 2003-04 form. Defenseman Dan Boyle has been a workhorse and point producer. But the pick has to be center Brad Richards. He has been the Lightning's most consistent player. Exhibit A: He has points in 31 of 41 games.
BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT: With all the above names, the Lightning's power play should not be ranked in the bottom five of the NHL. A few goals here and there with the man advantage and the Lightning, again, would have one of the best records in the NHL instead of fighting for its playoff life.
MOST SURPRISING STAT: The Lightning is last in the league with only four fighting majors.
MOST TROUBLING STAT: The Lightning has been outscored 47-37 in the third period, perhaps why it is a pedestrian 7-7-1 when tied after two.
MOST TROUBLING STAT, PARTS II AND III: The Lightning has been outscored 126-123 and, in 5-on-5 play, has outscored its opponents only 72-69.
MOST GRUESOME INJURY: St. Louis' left ring finger is shattered when hit with a puck during practice. In surgery, his nail is removed, the bed is stitched up and the nail is reattached. Ewwwww! And he only missed two games!
BEST MELTDOWN: Coach John Tortorella had a couple of good ones, but when he said Atlanta's Eric Boulton, who gave Ranger a concussion with a cheap-shot elbow on Oct. 20, should be in the East Coast league, he made national news in the United States and Canada. He apologized the next day, but he shouldn't have. He was right.
SECOND-HALF PREDICTION: The Lightning will go 24-14-3 during the second half and finish with 96 points - good for second in the Southeast and sixth in the conference.