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By Matt Canamucio, NHL Editor

(Sports Network) - It could be that Tampa Bay merely caught "lightning in a bottle" when the club won the Stanley Cup in 2004.

And not just "lightning in a bottle" in terms of momentum and everything breaking their way, but also in the way they had exactly the right players in place to get the job done. The group wasn't completely torn apart before last season, but enough players -- namely goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin -- left town that an impact was felt.

The patchwork goaltending that remained fell apart, the offensive attack sputtered at best and the defense had far too many holes. So the job of general manager Jay Feaster this summer was to fix all of the above the best he could.

First off he pulled the trigger on a trade for goaltender Marc Denis, who was expendable in Columbus. The deal did cost the team consistent point producer Fredrik Modin, but it's a risk that had to be taken.

In addition the team underwent a defensive makeover. Gone are Pavel Kubina and Darryl Sydor, and new to the fold are Filip Kuba, Luke Richardson, Andy Delmore and Doug Janik.

What helped the Lightning win the Cup in '04 was the ability to take chances offensively with the comfort that if there was a turnover it would be handled at the other end. That formula was rarely found a season ago, and that is the mission once again.

FORWARDS - Martin St. Louis saw a significant drop-off after winning the Hart Trophy in 2004. The small-statured winger's production fell from 94 points to 61, most of which came from a lack of assists. Can he bounce back when it's not a contract year?

Center Brad Richards, another piece of the team's core, built on his terrific '04 playoff run and tallied 23 goals and 68 assists. In addition to being one of the premier passing centers in the NHL, Richards is durable as he hasn't missed more than two games in a season in his five-year career.

Vincent Lecavalier has nearly become the player he was pegged to be, and last season he finished with 35 goals and 40 assists. He has all the physical tools, but I think there might be one more level he can reach in his game.

Vaclav Prospal returned to Tampa last season after seeing his output drop with Anaheim. He was second on the club in both assists and points, and seems to be back in a more comfortable setting.

Ruslan Fedotenko is a mucker and grinder who can put the puck in the net, and he bagged 26 tallies last season. It was a career effort for the Ukrainian, who was traded from Philadelphia for the fourth-overall pick in the 2002 NHL Entry Draft (Joni Pitkanen). While Pitkanen is still developing into a top- notch blueliner, no one in Tampa is complaining now.

What remains to be seen is how head coach John Tortorella plans to replace the consistent production of Modin, who is typically a 25-30 goal guy. Winger Ryan Craig, who has a powerful presence at 6-2, 220 pounds, tallied 15 goals in just 48 games as a rookie. He could be the man to do it.

DEFENSE - Basically we have a situation where Kuba and Richardson are replacing Kubina and Sydor. Kuba is a big guy who can contribute offensively too, while Richardson is about as stay-at-home as they come, especially at the age of 37.

The blueline corps will again be led by the smooth-skating Dan Boyle, who continues to excel at the offensive end while playing a responsible defensive game. Boyle tallied 15 goals last season, including six on the power play and is your clear-cut anchor.

Cory Sarich, Nolan Pratt and sophomore Paul Ranger will likely fill out the backline, while newcomers Delmore and Janik will compete for ice time too. Delmore is rather one-dimensional, but would be a tremendous asset for a power-play unit that struggled last season.

GOALTENDING - Denis comes to town after spending the past five seasons with Columbus -- the final four of which was as the primary starter. Denis has proven the ability to carry a heavy workload, as he appeared in 77 games in 2002-03 and 66 the next year. A season ago he went 21-25-1 with a 3.25 goals- against average and .900 save percentage in 49 outings.

Denis might not be able to give the Bolts what Khabibulin did in '04, but if it's somewhere between that and the 05-06 debacle that was John Grahame and Sean Burke, Tampa should be OK.

Backing up Denis will likely be Swede Johan Holmqvist, who spent last season playing in his homeland.

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Goaltending:I am hoping and expecting for great things from Denis, I think because he has a better team in front of him then what he had with Columbus he can do awesome. Like with Team Canada at the World Championship this year he had a good team infront of him and in my opinion did good for Canada.

Defence:I think Tampa ia okay with the defence although we lost Kubina we got Kuba and so far has been doing great. Andy Delmore, although some tampa fans have been calling him An y elmore taking out the D's because apparently he can't play defence? Players can do so much better with a change in scenary.

Forwards:We have great fire power up front, Vincent Lecavalier could be soooooo much better if he put 100% into his game half the time it looks like he is puting in only 50% and scoring over 30 goals imagine what he can do with 100%?? Martin St Louis was going back to his old form during the playoff last season and hopefully during hte regular season he comes back to his form. Although we lost Modin who was a 30 goal scoring player and had an amazing wrist shot :mad: we still have Fedotenko, Prospal, and even Boyle who is an offensive defencemen
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