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|29 сентября 2003
Lightning's Fedotenko Gets Offensive - Tampa Tribune
By ERIK ERLENDSSON
TAMPA - Ruslan Fedotenko was sold to Lightning fans as an underutilized offensive threat.
That's what Tampa Bay General Manager Jay Feaster stated in the face of heavy criticism from the press for the move that sent the No. 4 pick in the 2002 draft to Philadelphia for Fedotenko and a pair of second-round picks.
In his first season with the Lightning, Fedotenko fell short of the 20-25 goals projected by Feaster while enduring an up-and-down season that found him playing alongside Vinny Lecavalier at the start, but also found him in more of a checking role on the third and fourth lines. Though he set a career-high with 19 goals, he finished with just 32 points.
But when training camp lines were posted for intrasquad scrimmages, Fedotenko again found himself in an offensive role, playing left wing on a line with Brad Richards and Martin St. Louis. The trio lit up the tournament by combining for 29 points.
The line has held together for the most part during the preseason and worked together Sunday night during Tampa Bay's home preseason finale. Fedotenko picked up his team-leading third goal as Tampa Bay beat Florida 3-2 on Richards' goal 1:12 into overtime.
``I'm excited to play with them. They are great players, quick and smart, so I think we have a good chance [to stay together],'' Fedotenko said. ``For camp they put it together and I think we are clicking a little so I think they wanted to see it in a game.''
Lightning coach John Tortorella said he put the line together because he wanted to put Fedotenko in a position to try to help jump-start his offense. Though it has worked to this point in the preseason, Tortorella said he may look at other combinations to work with Richards and St. Louis after feeling the line grew a little stale with Fredrik Modin on left wing.
``I still like the combination of Richie and St. Louis together, and it's just figuring out who is going to play on the left side,'' Tortorella said. ``Ruslan is a guy who we are going to need to get more out of this year, just like everybody else. He's had a pretty good camp with that line, but as we play the next [three] exhibition games we are going to try a number of different things with the lines.''
Another area Fedotenko hopes to reclaim is his spot as one of the team's top penalty killers. A defensively responsible player, he struggled at times on the penalty kill in the first half of last season and was taken off the unit for the remainder of the season.
``We thought he understood it, but he was still making, in my eyes, the same mistakes. But he's too good of a player not to be a penalty killer,'' Tortorella said. ``It's all a process of understanding our systems and we felt we needed to take him away because we had a number of penalty killers who were all playing well and the puck was going in our net quite a bit. I'm certainly not just blaming him, but we just felt we were comfortable with the players we had going. But eventually we would like to get him back into it.''
No matter his role, Fedotenko said he can adapt to any situation.
``My goal is to just play hard in whatever position they put me in and try to do my best,'' he said. ``I know I can do a good job on either of the top lines, and even the third if that's where they want me to play. Nobody wants to go back, everybody wants to play on the top two lines, but I think I proved last year that I can score on any line. I just try not to think too much, just look at the lines and do what I have to do the best of what I do on that line.''