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|3 марта 2007 года.
Bolts Expect A Fedotenko Revival // The Tampa Tribune
By ERIK ERLENDSSON
SUNRISE - Somewhere before Nick Tarnasky's unlikely shootout winner, Johan Holmqvist's 10-for-10 shootout performance, Washington's controversial late power-play goal and Tampa Bay's MVP duo of Marty St. Louis and Vinny Lecavalier coming through late, Ruslan Fedotenko's 12th goal of the season got lost in the translation.
But it shouldn't come as much of a surprise that Fedotenko's goal with 27.9 seconds left in the second period Thursday went largely unnoticed despite the importance of that marker, which cut the Capitals' lead to 3-2 heading into the final period.
At many times this season, Fedotenko himself has been largely unnoticed, lost in the MVP campaigns of Lecavalier and St. Louis and Brad Richards' return to the scoresheet on a more regular basis.
Coming off a career-high 26 goals last season, Fedotenko was expected to produce in the absence of 30-goal scorer Fredrik Modin. Instead, from a personal standpoint, Fedotenko had one word Friday to sum up his season to date.
"Disappointing," he said. "I was expecting [more], I know I can do better. I started off really hot at the beginning of the season, but it just seems that since then I have lost my touch. I can score 25 goals. I know I can do more. It just seems like this year I've just been struggling."
Fedotenko, who is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season, did jump out to a good start with five goals and nine points in the first 10 games of the season. But since then, he has seven goals and 13 assists in the past 54 games and has endured goal-less droughts of 14-, 13- and 12-game stretches. His goal Thursday was his first in 13 games and second in the past 26.
But with the season dwindling - there are 16 games remaining, including tonight at Florida - Fedotenko still can be a difference maker. As teams attempt to shut down Lecavalier and St. Louis and the scoring chances are harder to find, it is a time of year that Fedotenko can regain his clutch status and chip in with some timely goals.
"I think it's been an up-and-down year for him," Lightning coach John Tortorella said. "I think with Feds, he can be one of our better offensive players, one of our better defensive players, one of our hardest hitters on certain nights, and on other nights he can be one of our lousiest in all three categories. So we are looking for consistency.
"And this isn't to run him down, but you see how effective he can be as a hockey player in this league. And if we can get that at a key time in the season, then you have something."
Fedotenko said his pending unrestricted status and the rumors that he could potentially be on the move didn't consciously affect his game. It has been more a lack of confidence that has eroded as the season has worn on.
Yet the play he made late Thursday, taking the puck and cutting to the slot before whipping a wrist shot back to the near post as Brent Johnson was already sliding to the far post, is a play he has made many times, yet this season it just hasn't been there.
"I think sometimes in the back of my mind I am trying to play it safer," he said. "And I think it makes you lack confidence. You are not playing as well, you are not taking chances offensively enough and all that stuff and it's kind of a double-edged sword."
Fedotenko's penchant for turning it up when the chips are on the line is one reason Tampa Bay did not actively pursue a top-six forward at the trade deadline.
"I think that we'll see a resurgence from Ruslan Fedotenko," Lightning general manager Jay Feaster said. "I think Feds was a guy who was concerned about what was going to happen because he is unrestricted at the end of the year. So I think he is going to contribute offensively."
Fedotenko is hopeful Thursday's goal is a sign of things to come. And if it is, and his complete game comes around, that's a good sign for the team, too.
"I believe he can [turn it up]," Tortorella said. "It just brings us a whole new dimension offensively and defensively. There are a lot of things wrapped up in him, and when it's going it's really good for the team."