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Slumping Prospal senses improvement
By DAMIAN CRISTODERO
Published January 8, 2007
PITTSBURGH - Vinny Prospal entered Sunday on a bit of a roll with two goals in four games and a sense he might be coming out of a seasonlong slump.
The Lightning left wing also is well aware his name has cropped up in trade rumors.
"I guess it's frustrating in a way," Prospal said. "I would like to snap out of it here and not somewhere else. I know we're a good team and we'll make the playoffs."
Prospal's five goals and 18 assists put him on pace for 10 and 34. The 44 points would be 36 fewer than last season.
Prospal scored an opportunistic goal Friday against the Avalanche and played a season-high 23:10.
"I believe my personality is not that I would give up on something," he said. "I'm not satisfied with how things are going, but I feel I'm on the right path."
As for the trade rumors, "You just have to dismiss them."
Teammate Ruslan Fedotenko, also part of trade speculation, agreed: "Knowing I'm coming up on unrestricted free agency, something could be done, so we'll wait and see. It's a business. I just have to roll with it."
CAPTAIN MATERIAL: He is just 19, but there is talk Sidney Crosby soon could fill Pittsburgh's vacant captaincy.
"It's not something I'm worried about," said Crosby, one of three alternates. "It's not something that's been talked to me about. It's a huge honor, but I'm more concerned with being a better player."
Crosby has NHL highs of 64 points and 44 assists.
"He's the total package," said Lightning coach John Tortorella, who added Crosby and San Jose's Joe Thornton are "two of the best backhand passers in the game."
Asked what kind of leader he respects, Crosby spoke of Red Wings legend Steve Yzerman, who was named captain at 21: "He wasn't always the most vocal guy, but a lot of times, actions speak louder than words."
ROY RECAP: In his first 21 games since being acquired from the Penguins, left wing Andre Roy has one assist, 32 penalty minutes and averaged 3:45 of ice time. While improving, he said conditioning, after playing just five games with Pittsburgh, still is a concern.
ODDS AND ENDS: Center Andreas Karlsson returned to Tampa for the birth of his first child with wife Monique. ... Defenseman Luke Richardson played for just the sixth time in 22 games.
Damian Cristodero can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 727 893-8622. View his blog at lightning. tampabay.com.