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Should Tampa Bay Bucs be interested in Adrian Peterson?

When it comes to the next destination for free agent Adrian Peterson, the Tampa Bay Bucs look like a possible place to run toward.

But should they be?

Peterson, who has rushed for almost 12,000 yards in his career running for the Minnesota Vikings, certainly has the name for the job. He has seven 1,000 yard seasons. He has scored 97 touchdowns. He is, arguably, the best running back of his generation.

Still, there are warning signs to Peterson. He’ll turn 32 in March, and he’s coming off an injury that limited him to 75 yards in 2016 (after 72 in 2014). Obviously, he’ll want to stop by an ATM on his way to the field.

So should the Bucs be ready to chase down Peterson? Or should they let another team sign him?

Oh, make no mistake. With the problems that Doug Martin has had, no one would blame Tampa Bay if they choose to try out another running back. But there are other quality backs to be had at a more affordable price than Peterson,

Tampa Bay Bolts also barter Brian Boyle as trades continue

The Tampa Bay Lightning has traded away another fan favorite.

The Bolts sent Brian Boyle to the Toronto Maple Leafs Monday afternoon for forward Byron Froese and a conditional second-round draft pick.

The Lightning will get the higher of Toronto’s second-round picks.

Froese, 25, has appeared in two games with the Maple Leafs this season, posting two shots on goal. The 6-foot, 205-pound forward has skated in 58 career NHL games, all with Toronto over the past two seasons, collecting two goals and five points. He made his NHL debut against the Montreal Canadiens on October 24, 2015. Froese scored his first career NHL goal on December 19, 2015, against the Los Angeles Kings.

The Winkler, Manitoba native has also played in 48 games with the Toronto Marlies this season, posting 24 goals and 39 points to go along with 18 penalty minutes. Froese paces the Marlies for both goals and points. He’s appeared in 195 career AHL games, registering 49 goals and 101 points to go along with 81 penalty minutes.

Boyle had 13 goals for the Bolts this season.

Rowdies take impressive win over MLS’s Montreal in exhibition

If you want to join them, well, first you beat them.

The Tampa Bay Rowdies, who have announced their plans to pursue admission into the MLS, took a symbolic step toward their goal Saturday night when they beat the Montreal Impact. The Impact was the Eastern Conference runners-up last season.

However, the Rowdies dominated play most of the evening, taking a 2-0 lead en route to their victory. Joe Cole and Deshorn Brown, a training guest, scored the goals within six minutes of one another late in the first half. Montreal’s only goal came from the penalty spot in the 71st minute.

“It’s nice to get a win, even though in preseason, the result isn’t the most important thing,” coach Stuart Campbell said. “It’s about the performance, the amount of work and improving the players’ fitness. You could see how hard the players worked tonight. For many of them, it was their first 90 minutes of the preseason.”

The Rowdies finished the Suncoast Invitation with a 1-1 record. The loss came to Philadelphia, which scored a late goal after Tampa Bay had substituted liberally.

“The movement that Montreal has and the attacking quality they use, they’re a very good team,” Campbell said. “We limited them to very few chances. I can’t remember many clear-cut chances they had. That’s one of the best teams in MLS. If you finish above Montreal, you’re not going to be far from winning the championship.”

After a back-and-forth first half that showed flashes of quality but with chances lacking, the Rowdies opened the scoring in the 34th minute with a quickly-taken free kick.

Rowdies winger Leo Fernandes drew a foul just outside the 18-yard box, and, before Montreal could set up defensively, the Rowdies took the free kick with Brown feeding Cole wide of the 6-yard box.

Cole’s shot on goal was deflected past Impact goalkeeper Evan Bush by Laurent Ciman and Tampa Bay took a 1-0 lead in the 34th minute.

Just six minutes later, Cole nearly scored his second of the match, but Bush made a big save. Brown pounced on the rebound and smashed it with his left foot to double Tampa Bay’s lead before halftime.

Despite the normal second-half substitutions that come standard in preseason matches, the Rowdies maintained control of the match save for Piatti’s penalty in the 71st minute, sealing a positive result.

“We wanted to go out and get a result, but really we wanted to put on a good performance,” Campbell said. “It’s fantastic to go out there and beat an MLS team that had a very good year last year and will no doubt have another very good year this year.”

Tampa Bay is back in action next week when it travels to Tampa to take on the University of Tampa Spartans on Saturday, March 4.

The Rowdies open their inaugural USL season March 25 against Orlando City B at Al Lang Stadium.

Tampa Bay Bucs release highly paid cornerback Alteraunn Verner

Alteraunn Verner was still getting paid like star.

His performance, however, was that of a backup.

The two could not be reconciled, and so Verner was released by the Tampa Bay Bucs on Thursday.

Verner, 28, signed a four-year, $25.5 million contract in 2014, but his play didn’t measure up. The last two seasons, Verner started only nine games, including three in 2016. However, he was due to make $6.5 million in the coming year, even though he had been essentially replaced by free agent Brent Grimes and No. 1 draft pick Vernon Hargreaves. Verner was scheduled to be the fifth-highest paid Buc on the team’s salary cap list.

Verner’s most memorable moment of the last year came in the Seattle game, two days after his father died. Verner had a key interception in the Bucs’ victory.

Should Jameis Winston be hammered for clumsy statement?

Now that he has fumbled, are we to hammer Jamies Winston?

Now that he has said the wrong thing, does it matter if he was doing the right one?

Winston, the quarterback with the troubled past for the Tampa Bay Bucs, had good intentions. Really he did. On an off-day, he chose to speak to the children at Melrose Elementary School. He said later that he noticed one small boy who wasn’t paying attention, and he tried to get him involved.

At that point, Winston said something inappropriate. And, from the reports, there are those who will not forgive him.

“All my young boys, stand up. The ladies, sit down,” Winston said, as quoted by the Tampa Bay Times and others. “But all my boys, stand up. We strong, right? We strong! We strong, right? All my boys, tell me one time: I can do anything I put my mind to. Now a lot of boys aren’t supposed to be soft-spoken. You know what I’m saying? One day y’all are going to have a very deep voice like this (in deep voice). One day, you’ll have a very, very deep voice.

“But the ladies, they’re supposed to be silent, polite, gentle. My men, my men (are) supposed to be strong. I want y’all to tell me what the third rule of life is: I can do anything I put my mind to. Scream it!”

It should go without saying that no one should tell girls to be silent, or to suggest that they are not strong. For that clumsy wording, Winston was wrong.

On the other hand, he was at Melrose to deliver a positive message. Should he be roasted for it?

Yes, Winston had his problems while at FSU, being accused of domestic violence, singing a rap song that was crude. But this was merely saying something the wrong way, wasn’t it? No one should defend what Winston said. Still, you get the feeling that Winston was trying to fire up the boys rather than put down the girls. Don’t you?

ESPN — which defended Winston in a video — did bring up his sexual assault reports in its report.

“I was making an effort to interact with a young male in the audience who didn’t seem to be paying attention, and I didn’t want to single him out so I asked all the boys to stand up,” Winston said. “During my talk, I used a poor word choice that may have overshadowed that positive message for some.”

On the other hand, Winston just turned 23. He will get smoother in his messages. He will be all-inclusive.

And, yes, he’ll learn that girls are strong, too.

Triplets reunited as Tampa Bay Lightning continues playing well

Once again, they were magic.

Once again, they were so electric you could almost see sparks on the ice. Nikita Kucherov. Ondrej Palat. Tyler Johnson.

The Triplets.

Stop them if you can.

You remember the Lightning’s Triplets, don’t you? In 2014-15, they were the most amazing line in the National Hockey League. They led the NHL in scoring that year, and given their tender ages, it seemed they would be a success for years to come.

Ah, but injuries happened, and the line was split up, and they appeared as a trio only every now and then.

Have you looked lately? The Tampa Bay Lightning line is clicking again, a one-two-three punch that can still take over games. They were solid in Colorado, getting off 13 shots. Then, in a keeper of a win against Edmonton, they were good again in a 4-1 victory.

Palat scored two goals. Kucherov scored one and had three assists. Johnson had two assists. And the Lightning pointed for the seventh straight game. At what may be their last chance, the Bolts are finally playing well again.

“It’s not that you put them together and all of the sudden the magic starts,” said coach Jon Cooper. “It’s playing the right way before that happens. Everyone had been defending really well. All of the sudden, you have the puck more, you have the puck in the right places more.”

Tuesday night’s game was an answer as to why the team had been spinning its wheels. The Bolts need more Triplets.

“It’s fun,” said defenseman Anton Stralman. “I’ve got the best seat in the house to watch it. They have that something extra and tonight they really brought it.”

Said Johnson: “It’s been great. We haven’t had much opportunity to play together the last couple of years. Maybe a period or two here or there. There haven’t been too many times (we played together) the entire game. Last game, we played well. We had a lot of chances to score, but it just didn’t go in for us. Now they’ve started to go in and we even had more opportunities.”

So will the Triplets stay together?

“It’s getting results, so I hope so,” Johnson said. “I like playing with those guys. They’re fun to play with. They make the game a lot better.”

Palat scored the first two goals for Tampa Bay. But Edmonton came back on goal by Iiro Pakarinen, then had another goal disallowed on an off-sides. It was a rare challenge won by Tampa Bay.

Kucherov added a third goal, and Vlad Namestikov was awarded a goal when he was hooked on an empty netter with one second to play.

Tampa Bay is home Thursday night against Calgary.

Lightning’s Ben Bishop remains hot as Bolts get points again

Well, look who might be getting warm.

The Tampa Bay Lightning, which has spent most of the season as just another team, beat Winnipeg 4-1 Saturday night to earn at least a point in four consecutive games. The Lightning has three wins and a shootout loss in the games.

The Bolts are now in sixth place in the Atlantic Division with 57 points, five points out of third.

It is the kind of effort that Lightning fans have waited most of the season for. Goalie Ben Bishop was solid with 32 saves in 33 shots, and came within one shot of having his second straight shutout. Bishop is now 14-12-3 on the season, and he’s allowed only three goals in his last three games.

The Lightning had goals from Brayden Point, Brian Boyle, Ondrej Palat and an empty-netter from Victor Hedman. Tampa Bay held a 3-0 lead until Jacob Trouba scored in the third period.

The Bolts are now off until next Saturday night when they play at Dallas.

Lightning wins its second in a row to show it still has life

Despite all of the evidence to the contrary, there might be life to the Tampa Bay Lightning, after all.

And if so, nights such as Tuesday night give fans a reason to believe.

The Lightning won a 5-0 game that should serve as the team’s blueprint for the rest of their playoff run. They got good goaltending, they got goals from their speediest skaters, and their penalty kill was strong in a 5-0 victory over the Los Angeles Kings.

It was the first regular season shutout by goalie Ben Bishop since last March 28, when he stopped 34 shots against Toronto. This time, Bishop stopped 19 shots in the first period, but had to face only nine the last two periods.

“Bish played extremely well in the first period when we needed him,” said coach Jon Cooper. “I looked up and they had 19 shots. We felt extremely fortunate to go to intermission with the lead. Clearly Bishop had a lot to do with that. But once that happened, we gave up nine shots the rest of the game. That’s the team helping each other out. Ben bailed us out in the first, and the team said ‘Ben, we’re not going to try to need you in the last two periods. That’s how it went.”

The Bolts also got two goals from Nikita Kucherov and one from Jonathan Drouin. Gabriel Dumont had his first goal for the Lightning, and Braydon Coburn added a goal.

For the Lightning, it was the first time the team has won back-to-back games since December 20th and 22nd.

“We need to get consecutive wins,” Drouin said. “When you win one , lose one, win one, lose one, you don’t get points out of it. We want to make it three and four. That’s what we need. We need points on the road.”

For Bishop, it was his second straight win. He’s struggled much of the year to remain above .500, and so it is encouraging to think he might get on a roll.”

Tampa Bay visits Minnesota on Friday night.

Who’s on first? Rays re-sign Logan Morrison to roster

If a Tampa Bay Rays fan was looking for something new, Tuesday was a disappointing day.

The Rays, whose interest in slugger Chris Carter had been well reported, missed out on the former Milwaukee slugger, who signed with the New York Yankees for $3.5 million. Carter would have been an intriguing addition after a 41-home run season.

Later in the day, the Rays reached a new agreement with Logan Morrison, who hit .238 for the team a year ago.

He hit .275 with 14 home runs, 43 RBI and a .350 on-base percentage over his final 79 games (72 starts), from May 16 through the end of his season. He appeared in 107 games, but his season was cut short by two injuries: a right forearm strain put him on the disabled list for 16 games at the end of July, and a left wrist strain sidelined him for the final 20 games of the season.

The Rays training camp begins on Feb. 12 when pitchers and catchers report.

Lightning struggles again in disappointing loss to Boston

This is the way it’s going for the Tampa Bay Lightning: Badly.

This is the way it’s going: The Bolts finally get a game with three goals … and goaltender Ben Bishop gives up four.

This is the way it’s going: The Lightning finally gets a breakaway in the third period of Thursday night’s game…and Tyler Johnson passes the puck backward instead of taking a shot.

This is the way it’s going: Tampa Bay defenseman Anton Stralman is hit from behind by Boston’s Brad Marchand, and no penalty is called. The Bruins promptly score twice in the last two minutes of the second period.

In other words, it was business as usual in the Bolts’ 4-3 loss to the Boston Bruins, another in a series of games the team has designated as important. Yet, as usual, the Lightning stubbed their toes and failed to make up any ground.

It would be mystifying if only it had not happened so often.

“Fifty games in?” said Lightning coach Jon Cooper. “I guess it’s not too mystifying anymore. It’s happened too often. How many times do you have to say ‘consistency.’ It’s tough.

“Why do they change the way they play? You pat them on the back and say ‘good first period’ and they go out there and play not so good.”

The Bolts are now 22-23-6 on the season. They are six points out of the final wild-card spot.

Goaltender Ben Bishop fell to 11-12-3 with the loss. He faced 35 shots, but four of them got past him.

After taking a 1-0 lead and playing a solid first period, the Bolts gave up two goals in two minutes – the second with .09 seconds to play – to fall behind.

Alex Killorn’s second goal tied it, but Boston scored two to close out the game. The Bolts had only 13 shots in the second and third period and only 21 for the game.

“We have to have more consistency,” said Killorn. “It’s kind of disappointing. We show a little fight at the end of the third period, but it wasn’t enough.”

The Lightning plays Ottawa on Thursday night in an effort to keep up with a league that is moving farther away from the team.

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