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Jacques Demers


C - Craig Janney, Vincent Lecavalier, Darcy Tucker, Daymond Langkow. RW - Mikael Renberg, Stephane Richer, Benoit Hogue, Rob Zamuner, Mikael Andersson, Andrei Nazarov. LW - Wendel Clark, Alexander Selivanov, Sandy McCarthy, Steve Kelly, Paul Ysebaert. D - Cory Cross, Karl Dykhuis, David Wilkie, Michal Sykora, Jassen Cullimore, Enrico Ciccone, Pavel Kubina, Kjell Samuelsson. G - Bill Ranford, Daren Puppa.


Stephane Richer, rw (knee surgery, out four-six weeks); Kjell Samuelsson, d (broken foot, out four-six weeks); Rob Zamuner, lw (groin, out indefinitely); Andrei Nazarov, rw (broken finger, day-to-day).




10/28  at Anaheim      L 5-1
10/30  at Los Angeles  W 3-0
10/31  at San Jose     L 6-1
11/04  at Washington   W 5-2
11/06  Chicago         T 2-2
11/08  New Jersey      W 3-1


Southeast Division  GP   W   L   T   PTS   GF   GA  
  Carolina          14   6   5   3    15   34   29   
  Tampa Bay         14   6   6   2    14   36   39   
  Florida           12   4   5   3    11   27   35   
  Washington        13   4   6   3    11   28   35


by Seth Lerman, Tampa Bay Correspondent

This is no joke.

For the first time in 91 games, the Tampa Bay Lightning have reached the .500 mark, and can thank several veteran's for the club's rise from the cellar: Wendel Clark, Craig Janney, Bill Ranford, and Daren Puppa.

Puppa, who has missed parts of the last two seasons to injuries, has been outstanding in the nine games in which he has appeared. Currently, he sports a 5-3-1 record with two shutouts and a 2.26 goals-against average. In his last outing against the New Jersey Devils, he made 34 saves en route to a 3-1 victory, Tampa's sixth in its last nine games.

"It's a big win for us. We haven't beaten these guys in a couple years," said Puppa, whose Lightning were winless (0-6-1) in the previous seven games against the Devils. "It's adding a little more confidence for us."

Puppa's play in net has almost been equaled by Ranford, a 13-year veteran acquired from the Washington Capitals in the off-season. In six games, he has a record of 1-3-1 and a goals-against average of 3.41. His only bad outing was against the San Jose Sharks when he gave up six goals. He rebounded with a fine start against the Chicago Blackhawks.

"I have been pretty happy with my play so far," said Ranford. "I feel that I have played well, except for the San Jose game, the team had no legs that night."

"Tonight's game was a great tie (Chicago 2-2) thanks to Billy Ranford," said coach Jacques Demers. "We were outplayed the first 10 minutes and he kept us in the game got us a point. A year ago, we would have lost the game, but this is the new Tampa Bay Lightning. We battle till the end."

For the second time in his career, Wendel Clark was let go by the Toronto Maple Leafs. Injuries played a major role in the Leafs' decision. In the past five seasons, Clark has appeared in more than 60 games on just two occasions. In 1997-98 he scored 12 goals and 7 assists in 47 games, and appeared to be at the end of the line.

He signed with the Lightning as a free agent this past summer. He's glad he made the decision. In 14 games with the Bolts, Clark has a team high nine goals and 14 points. He has also been injury free, a fact which impresses Lightning management. Paired on a line with Craig Janney and Mikael Renberg, Clark has displayed the same fire which made him rookie of the year in 1986 and one of the top left wingers of the game.

Speaking of Janney, the center is second on the team in scoring with 13 points, including 12 assists. Once considered one of the best set-up men in the game, Janney has bounced between Phoenix, Winnipeg, St. Louis, and San Jose since 1995. With the Lightning, Janney has been asked to be the number one center, the same role he played with Boston and St. Louis earlier in his career. Thus far, he has not disappointed.

A third of the way to their 17 wins a year ago, Tampa is getting excited about its hockey team again. Ranford, Janney, Clark, and Puppa have a lot do with that. As Jacques Demers said, "they battle to the end."

Cullen Update: John Cullen, recently sent to Cleveland of the International Hockey League following his recovery from cancer, registered seven points in a game against the Chicago Wolves.

"I wasn't ready to become an assistant coach," he said about his decision to play in the minor leagues. "I knew I could still play and I wanted the chance to show that I could."

The game against the Wolves was also special because his father, stepmother, and several friends were in attendance. The seven points in one game was a career high for Cullen, who posted 157 points with Flint in 1988.

"I didn't think I played that well," he said to Associated Press. "I was telling my brother last night and I called my wife this morning. They said, `How you doing? And I didn't know. I was getting frustrated. And they all said to me, you've only played three games, relax."

"I know it was only three games, but I'm the type of guy if I play a bad game I get down. So this is a confidence-booster."

Cullen is hoping for a return to the NHL, either with Tampa Bay or another organization.

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