Tampa Bay Archives - Page 7 of 24 - SaintPetersBlog

Lightning returns to the dark side in loss to Vancouver Canucks

After a one-game reprieve, the Tampa Bay Lightning returned to its slump Friday night.

The Lightning lost a 4-2 game to the Vancouver Canucks. The Bolts had stopped a streak in which they lost seven of eight with a win against Calgary Wednesday, but they lost their eighth in 10 games against the Canucks.

“We can’t sit here and say we didn’t play well,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. They had 10 scoring chances the whole game. They score three goals. You can’t ask our team to do any better than that. Any NHL team will tell you, you give up 10 scoring chances, you’ve got a really good chance to win the hockey game. We’re playing pretty well defensively, a couple breaks here. Unfortunately, some of these turnovers are ending up in the back of our net. In the end, it’s a tough game not to get points out of, that’s for sure.

“It’s too bad because it was a pretty solid effort by a depleted group. You feel for the guys. It’s a self-inflicted loss is what it is. Bad turnovers end up in our net and a marginal call at best, a penalty 200 feet from our net and they just get an unreal break. It’s tough to fault the guys on their effort. The Canucks got the breaks and we didn’t.”

Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped only 20 of 23 shots in the loss.

Victor Hedman gave the Bolts a 1-0 lead, but Brandon Sutter and Luca Sbisa gave Vancouver a 2-1 lead after two periods. Corey Conacher scored his first goal to tie things up, but Bo Horvath scored a power play goal to give Vancouver the lead. Alex Burrows scored the final goal on an empty netter.

“I thought the first period was a good period,” said defenseman Anton Stralman. ” We played well. We played within our structure. And then the second period I thought we stopped doing the right things. We took the easy way out a little bit, and they hurt us. What’s unfortunate is that third goal, obviously, it’s just unlucky, especially on our PK too where we’ve been struggling and trying to get back on track. To allow one of those, it sucks, but, at the end, we need to play better over 60 minutes.”

The Lightning has been outscored 37-23 in their last 10 games.

Tampa Bay is in Edmonton tonight.

Share On Facebook
Share On Twitter
Share On Google Plus
Share On Linkedin
Share On Pinterest
Share On Reddit
Share On Stumbleupon
Share On Youtube
Contact us

Tampa Bay among 10 cities announced for potential MLS franchise

Well, that didn’t take long.

Only days after mentioning his twin ambitions of moving to the MLS and expanding Al Lang Stadium, Tampa Bay Rowdies’ owner Bill Edwards finds his team among 10 teams being considered for expansion by North America’s most prestigious soccer league.

The MLS is currently at 20 teams — three others are planned — but has plays to go to 28.

“I want to be the first of the 10 potential cities to earn an MLS franchise,” Edwards said.

The team expects to expand by two teams to begin play in 2020. The league said it required a committed ownership group, strong fan support and a comprehensive stadium plan.

“It’s great to know that less than two weeks after announcing our campaign, Major League Soccer is acknowledging us as one of the potential expansion cities,” Edwards said. “Bringing Major League Soccer to the Tampa Bay area by 2020 is my goal.”

The Rowdies would seem to have a built-in rivalry with Orlando.

Also helping Edwards’ MLS bid is the stalled plans by soccer superstar David Beckham to bring a stadium to Miami, which led MLS Commissioner Don Garber last week to suggest putting a deadline on Beckham’s deal, or owners will be forced to consider another market — with St. Petersburg inching up the list.

Garber’s idea is to have at least 24 teams in the current 20-team league, telling reporters in Toronto earlier this month that if expansion doesn’t happen: “there are going to be a lot of things that we have to move around.”

Expansion applications are due Jan. 31, with Sports Illustrated reporting that requests must include a business plan featuring ownership structure, potential stadium sites, financing and projections as well as sponsorship opportunities and information about the local soccer community.

Bill Edwards long-term plan for Al Lang Stadium and the Rowdies in St. Petersburg can certainly check every one of those boxes.

 

Share On Facebook
Share On Twitter
Share On Google Plus
Share On Linkedin
Share On Pinterest
Share On Reddit
Share On Stumbleupon
Share On Youtube
Contact us

Lightning finally wins a game, beating Calgary on the road

Finally, victory.

The Tampa Bay Lightning ended its losing streak, a slump that had seen the team lose seven of eight games. The Bolts scored two goals in each period to beat the Calgary Flames, 6-3.

The Lightning gave up an early goal, but then scored two in each period. Brian Boyle scored two in the first period and Alex Killorn scored two in the third. In between, Braydon Coburn and Andrej Sustr scored goals.

Goaltender Ben Bishop faced only 22 shots. Three of them went in, including goals by T.J. Brodie and Michael Ferland in a 21-second flurry.

“You sit there and the puck goes into the net three minutes into the game, but there was one thing probably in our last couple of weeks here where our heads are down,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. “But nobody batted an eye on that, and I thought that was big. Ultimately, and every coach will tell you, you need your goalie to be there for you. And he was there for us tonight, there’s no question. Even when they got those bang-bang goals in the third, to come up with that save on Bennett, who knows what happens if that goes in. He didn’t have to make a ton of saves tonight, but he made the right one and that was big.”

Cooper liked getting goals from his defense.

“I tell you what it does, it really lifts the guys on the bench because, I don’t know, guys are really pulling for those guys,” Cooper said. “You can just tell, there’s just a weight off their shoulders because it makes them feel part of things. It was a total team effort tonight. You’re missing, (Kucherov) is out, and we lost Palat early in the second period and obviously Stamkos is out, you need to get goals from somebody, and when you’re getting them from everybody, it was a confidence builder for us. It was really good to see.”

Killorn said the Lightning were a desperate team.

“I think when you lose eight out of 10 games, there has to be a desperation level,” Killorn said. “I think the coaches have done a good job keeping it somewhat loose but everyone knows how important games are. You see yourself in the standings and you keep falling, so we have to get right back on track and I think this was a good game starting in that direction.”

The Lightning played without leading scorer Nikita Kucherov.

Tampa Bay plays at Vancouver Friday night and Edmonton Saturday night.

Share On Facebook
Share On Twitter
Share On Google Plus
Share On Linkedin
Share On Pinterest
Share On Reddit
Share On Stumbleupon
Share On Youtube
Contact us

Tampa Bay receiver Mike Evans hopes to break out against Dallas

At the best part of the season, Mike Evans finds himself surrounded.

Evans, the talented wide receiver for the Tampa Bay Bucs, has been held in check for two weeks now. He had three catches for 38 yards against San Diego, and only four for 42 against New Orleans. After 10 touchdowns in his first 11 games, he has been kept out of the end zone for two straight weeks.

So how do opponents keep Evans out of the end zone?

“It depends on their personnel and then what their scheme is, but we are seeing a lot of hand-fighting,” said coach Dirk Koetter. “A lot of people try to hold Mike up at the line and not let him get started. And then even teams that aren’t half-field teams, we’re seeing more teams roll the coverage to Mike. And if they’re a single-high team, tilt the safety that way. If they’re a two-deep team, cloud it that way.”

Offensive coordinator Todd Monken also gave credit to the opposing defenses.

“The way the game plays out has something to do with that,” Monken said. “We still targeted him eight times and we’re going to still continue to move Mike around and target him because he’s a special talent. So, sometimes it just works out that way. He was still a big factor, got an interference call to put the ball on the one-yard line for our only touchdown, when they went cover-zero. Another time they got a holding call – Jameis (Winston) did hit Chuck (running back Charles Sims) – but that did add five yards on to that. So again, there’s some things we can do schematically, there’s some things that Mike can do better with his route running and his mental stamina to stay in the game and continue. Even the first drive, I think we had him – it was a glance that kind of turned into a post with quarters and we had a chance to hit him and we didn’t. So, (we are) just a little bit off in a number of our areas, but we’re really close.”

 Yes, Monken said, Evans is frustrated.

“Sure, I think Mike wants to be a big part of what we do and he should be,” Monken said. “Some frustration from being held, from being doubled, from not being a bigger contributor. Not from a selfish side, Mike’s not wired that way to be selfish. Mike is wired to be a team player, but Mike believes in himself. And he did, even with the four catches he had, they all seemed to be big. Third down catches, low throws, so again, I think he stays in the game relatively well mentally, but the frustration is he wants to do more to help us win.”

Monken said the way the game is refereed has much to do with it.

“I think that’s the way the league is headed. Defenders getting their hands on you, how often it’s going to get called,” Monken said. “Mike’s awfully handsy himself, so we’ve just got to do a better job of him getting away from that and doing a better job of having routes that give Mike a chance to catch the ball in space, which we still do. There was a number of routes that should the coverage dictate, would’ve gotten [Evans] the ball. Now again, how many targets is that going to be when you’re running the ball as often as we were and as few as possessions as we had? I don’t know what that’ll be.”

 Evans will try to break out this week against Dallas on Sunday night.

“They have been trying to stop Mike Evans,” quarterback Jameis Winston said. “When you’re playing against a team and their main focus is to stop one guy, it’s tough to give him the ball. So you’ve got to work with everyone else and the other guys have been doing a good job stepping up.”

 Dallas is second in the NFL in run defense, but only 28th against the pass.

Share On Facebook
Share On Twitter
Share On Google Plus
Share On Linkedin
Share On Pinterest
Share On Reddit
Share On Stumbleupon
Share On Youtube
Contact us

Lightning tries to snap its slump against Calgary Flames

One more time, the Tampa Bay Lightning will try to stop its fall.

One more time, it tries to get back to being a contender.

The Lightning, who have lost eight of their last nine games and have fallen out of the playoff race, tries to stop their dropoff tonight in Calgary. The Bolts have not had good play from their goaltenders or the defenders in front of them. Starting goaltender Ben Bishop is only 8-10-1, and the Bolts have given up four or more goals in six games on their streak.

It has happened before. A year ago, the Lightning had one losing streak of four straight games and one where it lost four of five. The year before, it had a streak where it lost four of five. In the year before that. It had losing streaks of four games in a row and five in a row.

Still, it hasn’t felt like this for a long time. The Bolts reached the final of the Stanley Cup two years ago, and it reached the Eastern Conference finals last year. This year, in a year in which the team locked up most of its stars to long-term contracts, Tampa Bay has been treading water.

Now comes a three-game swing through Canada, and the Bolts (14-13-1) will be fighting to stay on the proper side of .500.

Game time in Calgary is 9:30 p.m.

Share On Facebook
Share On Twitter
Share On Google Plus
Share On Linkedin
Share On Pinterest
Share On Reddit
Share On Stumbleupon
Share On Youtube
Contact us

Core of Tampa Bay Rowdies’ roster set to return to team in 2017

The core of the Tampa Bay Rowdies will return in 2017.

The Rowdies announced the re-signing of Joe Cole, Martin Vingaard and Neill Collins.

Cole and Vingaard joined the team after the season began, but the trio still combined for 63 starts. Georgi Hristov announced his return earlier.

Cole, a former Chelsea FC and Liverpool FC midfielder and three-time World Cup participant, made headlines when he joined the Rowdies in the early part of last season, making his club debut on May 14. He made 24 league appearances, playing more than 2,000 minutes and proving himself a marquee player for the club. His nine goals and seven assists made him the Rowdies’ second-leading points scorer and ultimately earned him a spot in the league’s Best XI. His highlight reel bicycle kick goal earned the No. 1 spot on SportsCenter’s Top 10 countdown July 16.

Vingaard will play his first full season for the Rowdies in 2017, having joined the club in July of last season. He made 17 appearances in the fall for Tampa Bay, including scoring a stunning 40-yard volley on the final day of the season.

Collins joined the club during its preseason exhibition tour of England from Sheffield United FC and fit in immediately. He made 22 appearances as a stalwart center back in 2016 and pitched in offensively as well, scoring once and providing two total assists. The big Scottish center back quickly established himself as a fan favorite with his fiery temper and aggressive play.

Share On Facebook
Share On Twitter
Share On Google Plus
Share On Linkedin
Share On Pinterest
Share On Reddit
Share On Stumbleupon
Share On Youtube
Contact us

This time, it’s the power play of the Penguins that dooms Bolts

Stop us if you’ve heard this one before.

The Lightning lose. They give up a lot of goals. The streak lives on.

Got it? It’s getting to be pretty painful for the Bolts, who have now lost seven of their last eight with Saturday night’s 4-3 loss to Pittsburgh. In five of their last seven games, they’ve given up at least four goals (four times, they’ve given up five.)

This time, the Bolts lost 4-3 to Pittsburgh, blowing a 3-1 lead on their way. Three of the Penguins’ goals were on the power play.

“You look at our effort level tonight and our battle and our compete,” coach Jon Cooper said. “It was there. We did everything we could to win the game. Special teams cost us in the end. Even still, I think we had an open net, didn’t we? Give him (Valtteri Filppula) that 1,000 times and he probably puts it in 999, and there’s the one time it didn’t go in for us. You’ve got to feel for the guys who’d probably still be playing right now, but they’re a really good team too.

“You can’t take anything away from them. They’re the defending champs, and they pretty much have kept going from last year. So you give them credit. We gave them five power plays. They scored on three of them, and that’s where it’s kind of tough. We’ve got to kill one more of those off, and we didn’t and it cost us.”

Sidney Crosby scored twice – his 19th and 20th goals of the year. He scored in the first period to give the Pens a 1-0 lead. But Tampa Bay scored three in a row – two by Jonathan Drouin and one by Filppula – to take a 3-1 lead.

“I liked a lot of the things we did,” Cooper said. “Again, when it kind of got down to it at the end though, we stopped shooting pucks. We stopped attacking the net, and the couple of flurries we had we were really attacking the net. We were going for it. Then it felt, again, we were trying to make the extra pass, trying to place the puck into the net instead of just getting it to the net and driving when we had guys doing that.

“That’s the tough part when at the end there we had things going, we just didn’t shoot enough. But Pittsburgh also puts you in those positions, so you’ve got to fight through that kind of stuff. Ultimately we had a 3-1 lead, and we blew it at home and those are tough to swallow because that doesn’t happen to us too often.”

Pittsburgh came back with two goals by Evgeni Malkin and one by Crosby. In all, the Penguins got off 37 shots against Tampa Bay.

“You can’t win if you’re going to give up 4-5 goals a night.” Cooper said. “And we are. Clearly, it’s tough to win games when that happens.”

The Lightning now goes on the road, facing Calgary Wednesday night.

Share On Facebook
Share On Twitter
Share On Google Plus
Share On Linkedin
Share On Pinterest
Share On Reddit
Share On Stumbleupon
Share On Youtube
Contact us

Bucs hope for a rare strong finish, starting with New Orleans

All they have to do is close the door. That’s it.

All they have to is finish. Nothing more.

For the Tampa Bay Bucs, contenders at last, the only thing they need to do to reach this year’s playoffs is finish strongly. That shouldn’t be too difficult, right? They have two games left against the Saints, who have lost seven times. They have one game left against the Panthers, who have lost eight. They have a game against the surprising 11-1 Dallas Cowboys, but they beat the Cowboys a year ago.

Ah, but finishing has always been a chore for the Bucs. Ask Jon Gruden, who was 9-3 in his last year before losing four straight. Ask Lovie Smith, whose team reached .500 a year ago…and lost four straight. Ask Raheem Morris, who lost his last 11 straight.

In all, the Bucs have finished 0-4 a total of 12 times, and they’ve gone 1-3 nine times.

So what makes this season different? Maybe it’s that the Bucs are on a four-game winning streak, and the defense is playing its best, and quarterback Jameis Winston is on an eight-game hot streak. Still, like the fourth quarter of games, the fourth quarter of a season can be a tricky thing.

For the Bucs, that means taking on quarterbacks every week. Drew Brees, who leads the NFL in passing yards, is up next. Rookie of the year candidate Dak Prescott of the Cowboys and reigning NFL MVP Cam Newton are coming up.

The Bucs are 16th in the NFL against the pass, although they have played better during their winning streak.

Sunday’s game against the Saints is at 1 p.m.

Share On Facebook
Share On Twitter
Share On Google Plus
Share On Linkedin
Share On Pinterest
Share On Reddit
Share On Stumbleupon
Share On Youtube
Contact us

Lightning clobbered again, this time by Vancouver, as skid continues

It wasn’t just that the Tampa Bay Lightning were beaten Thursday night.

They were clobbered.

Again.

The Lightning took it on the chin, 5-1, against the Vancouver Canucks, marking their sixth loss in seven games (and seventh in nine games). During their seven-game skid, the Bucs have given up five goals in four different games.

“First of all, I don’t even remember losing games by four goals, ever,” said Lightning coach Jon Cooper. “Maybe one a year. We’re losing them at once a week now. It comes down to defending. You look back at the end of the game and say, ‘Oh, well they had 41 shots and this was going on and this goalie made a big save, whatever.’ We still gave up five. That doesn’t matter. Even if we do get a couple of these to go in, so we lose 5-3. You still lose.

“The harder guys are trying to score, it’s just the more it’s hurting. In the end, we have to protect. I think I’ve said this before, we just played two games. We scored one goal in two games and came out with three or four points. It’s the mindset you have to have, and clearly we didn’t have that tonight.”

The Bolts have been in a tailspin since losing to Nashville on Nov. 21. They’ve given up 31 goals in the nine games since.

“All of a sudden one goal goes in on us and it’s, ‘Now what do we do?’” said Cooper. “And we’ve never been like that. We’re putting the load on a lot of guys shoulders that have to step up here. You look at the game tonight and there were some bad stat lines  for a few of those guys tonight, guys we depend on. It’s just, again, it all starts five feet out from our net and you work out from there, and we’re starting 195 feet from our net.”

Tampa Bay had the game’s first six shots Thursday night, and they had 41 in all. But Jack Skille scored two goals, Jayson Menga scored two and Erik Gudbranson scored one. Ben Bishop gave up four goals on 20 shots, and Andrei Vasilevskiy gave up one in 10.

Jonathan Drouin scored the only goal for the Lightning.

“As soon as we’ve got good things going, I thought we came out, we were outstanding and they come down, one shot, it’s in the net,”  Cooper said. “It seemed that was it. The little bit of adversity hits, which I didn’t think was any at all. There’s 55 minutes left and I thought we were playing hard. Guys were doing some good things and then we just kind of stopped. They obviously get the second one, it’s a lucky one and then we really went down. For me, we’re battling back.

“We’re doing some good things. Our power play looked really good. Miller was making some good saves, but I thought territorially we had the advantage. But the fourth one was the killer. We’re clearly thinking about the wrong net. You go into the room down 3-1, which I thought we had momentum. We lost it all right there on that goal, and we were just completely thinking about the wrong net. We were all going one way, and Vancouver had other ideas. We turn it over, and it’s in the back of our net. That is a microcosm of what’s been going on lately.”

Tampa Bay is home against the Pittsburgh Penguins, the defending Stanley Cup champions, Saturday night.

Share On Facebook
Share On Twitter
Share On Google Plus
Share On Linkedin
Share On Pinterest
Share On Reddit
Share On Stumbleupon
Share On Youtube
Contact us

Baseball commissioner: Rays stadium is about location, location, location

Another year has almost passed and, so far as we know, nothing much has happened to lead anyone to believe the Tampa Bay Rays are anywhere close to securing a new stadium. But there were two developments this week that seemed to be forces pulling in the opposite direction. That’s never good.

On Monday, as the Tampa Bay Times reported, baseball Commissioner Ron Manfred told reporters that the No. 1 priority for a stadium is location, location, location.

“I think getting, not only a new facility, but a facility that is more appropriately located within the Tampa-St. Pete market would be good,” he said at a Q-and-A session at George Washington University.

In case we didn’t get the message, Manfred added this: “Ultimately, there has to be an end game. If in fact, there’s not a site or there’s not a financial arrangement that’s viable and we become convinced of that, our rules allow for the possibility of relocation. At that point of desperation, it’s possible a team would be allowed to relocate.”

The “end game” got an interesting twist a day later when state Rep. Brian Avila, a Hialeah Republican, filed HB-77. Boiled to its essence, the measure would outlaw pro sports teams from leasing government-owned land to build or renovate a stadium.

A couple of points about all this:

Manfred is correct on his point about the requirement that a new stadium be “appropriately located” in the Tampa Bay market. Right now, it doesn’t look like they’re close.

There has been a lot of chatter about building a new ballpark adjacent to Tropicana Field, but that would just double-down on the original disastrous decision that stuck the Rays in the extreme western part of the marketplace.

The only places that make sense for the long term are downtown Tampa, the Westshore area in Tampa, or a spot in Pinellas off the Howard Frankland Bridge. The Rays have to be in the center of the market. Anything else is a waste of time and money.

The question of money brings us to the second point: How to pay for this.

I’ll conservatively put the cost at $600 million (although I believe it will be higher than that). The Rays will be expected to pony up a large chunk of that cost — perhaps through ticket surcharges and other fees. To do that, they’ll need a large season-ticket base, which in baseball means corporate sales.

Already, businesses in Hillsborough are reluctant to buy Rays’ tickets in mass quantities because clients and employees won’t make weeknight trips through the area’s stifling traffic at rush hour to get to the Trop.

For the sake of argument, let’s say they work out the location requirement and ticket sales spike. That bar is pretty low, by the way. The Rays attracted a little less than 1.3 million fans last year, by far the lowest in baseball.

Based on 2016 attendance figures, Tampa Bay would need an additional 1 million fans per season to be in the middle of the pack (San Diego, at No. 15, drew 2.3 million). That’s a jump of about 14,000 extra fans per game.

Before they can focus on that, though, the question for politicians becomes how to subsidize the stadium cost without having taxpayers storm their offices with pitchforks and flaming torches. We’ve all heard things like dedicating some tourist tax and rental car money, but I’m not even sure that’s feasible. Those industries have potent lobbyists who will be shouting in the ears of people like Brian Avila to keep MLB’s mitts off their money.

This issue has been dragging on for years and the Rays seem stuck in quicksand as a franchise. The way to change that is to heed Manfred’s words about location and stop with the nonsense of shoveling more money into a failed spot.

Nothing else can happen until they move past that.

Then, all they need to do is find a way to pay for it.

Then actually build it.

Then figure a way to put a competitive team in that new building.

To be continued …

Share On Facebook
Share On Twitter
Share On Google Plus
Share On Linkedin
Share On Pinterest
Share On Reddit
Share On Stumbleupon
Share On Youtube
Contact us
Show Buttons
Hide Buttons