by Bill Freitas
It's here, puck-heads. The Tampa Bay Lightning postseason run has begun. Hop aboard the bandwagon, folks. All are welcome. Think hockey is nothing but hip-checks, fights and goals? Come on down. Don't know a blue line from a clothesline? No problemo. Think offsides is just a football term? Got a spot for you right here. Icing belongs on cupcakes, right? Get your silly ass in that chair and enjoy.
So the Boltz started the series by playing a little ugly, sloppy and give-up-the-pucky Wednesday evening, and still managed to take the Montreal Canadiens to overtime before the inevitable. Lightning goalie Anders Lindback (aka The Guy Not Named Ben Bishop) held his own with 39 saves on the night; it was the five near-misses that ultimately sent Bolt Nation home with frowny faces and less money. But dry your eyes and turn that frown upside-down, prissy pants — this ain't the one-and-done brackets. Like baseball (and Donkey Kong), the Cooper troopers have at least three more lives to untuck their junk and show those French Canucks how we take care of business in Tampa Bay. It isn't just beaches, golf and teachers banging students.
Four goals wasn't enough to get it done at the Times Forum Wednesday, but it's still more than our suddenly hapless Rays have been able to score in the last three games (I know, right?). Our beloved boys of summer have unfortunately taken a nose-dive from first in the division to last in spectacularly WTF fashion. At the plate, they've hit the ball about as many times as I have in little league ... and I closed my eyes a lot. Top that off with the fact that, due to injuries, our pitching staff has become as bare as a Boston fitness center and there's cause for concern, even with over 140 games to go. Fortunately, a decent showing against the Bronx
Buttholes Bombers this weekend will make for a delightful slump-buster, particularly in front of the St. Pete pricks who only show up when the Yankees are in town. Oh, you saw The Rockettes once when you were 12? You are soooo New York. Put your cap on frontwards like a normal person and piss off.
Honorable Afterthoughts: Ferg's Sports Bar, a St. Pete staple for Rays pre- and post-game shenanigans, hijinks and tomfoolery is opening a new franchise in the Channel District in Tampa around August, as an option for thirsty Lightning fans (and maybe some *cough* Rays fans *cough* someday. Oh yeah, I went there.); ex-Buccaneer, excuse me, Viking "quarterback" Josh Freeman has landed himself a job as a backup for the New York Giants (look out, Eli — I smell quarterback controversy! Whoops, nope — I farted. My bad); and finally, former Florida State tailback and Plant High School Valedictorian*, James Wilder Jr. was arrested for the fourth time, this time for driving with a suspended license. I'm not sure which makes me more surprised — the fact that he has the mental capacity to drive a car in the first place, or that I'd still be happy to invoke the legacy rule, put him in a Bucs uniform, pretend it's 1984 and pray he doesn't poop his pewter pants after punching the po-po.
*Um ... no