Yesterday afternoons game was the most exciting game of the year that I have attended. Not only did the Forum have more people than I can remember at any game, have a better atmosphere than any other game I’ve attended and feature an exciting up and down hockey game, the Lightning won 3 to 1.
BBTB’s favorite player, Zenon Konopka picked up his 2nd goal of the year, on what happened to be his 29th bday. Martin St Louis and Steve Downie contributed the other goals for the Bolts.
While we’re talking about Downie, I want to mention a few things. Downie is turning into a hell of a player. He’s always been gritty, and able to grind out plays along the boards, but his game is evolving into much more than that. He is becoming quite adept at playing behind the net. His passing has improved leaps and bounds since he was acquired last year. He is also displaying a much more aggressive offensive game that has now netted him 8 goals on the year to go along with 10 assists for 18 total points. That isn’t exactly lightning the world on fire, but he has been contributing like a true first or second liner as of late with 5 points in his last 5 games.
Mike Smith was outstanding making 25 of 26 saves. He has allowed only 4 goals on the last 93 shots against him for a stunning 96.7% save percentage. He has brought his GAA down to a 2.89 and his save percentage down to .906 with his recent string of success. If Smitty continues to play like he has been as of late, coupled with the outstanding season thusfar from Antero Nittymaki, the Lightning have a chance to make some real noise in the last few months of the season. We currently sit tied for 9th with 42 points, 1 behind the Rangers for the 8th seed in the East.
I also want to give some props to the Lightning players named to their teams respective Olympic squads. Ryan Malone will play for Team USA (a jersey I will own very soon), Mattias Ohlund for Sweden, Andrej Meszaros for Slovakia and Antero Nittymaki for Finland.