Last night’s game was quite the thrill ride. There were more ups and downs, twists and turns than a roller coaster at Busch Gardens. From starting the match with a Calgary rush up the ice to greet Mathieu Garon with a couple shots in just the first few seconds to Steven Stamkos’ game winner 30 seconds into OT. It was an enjoyable (and at times nerve-wracking) game to watch. The Lightning played well, all around, was one of the first “complete games” that they’ve played all season. (Plus both the PP and the PK looked much better!)
It had appeared as if something had clicked finally. Everyone understood their role and what needed to be done, and for the most part did so with intensity! The one moment of the game that really got me thinking was when Nate Thompson was in the offensive zone with a slew of defenders pestering him. He never gave up, kept working, kept pushing and skating through them all, just waiting for a teammate to join him in the zone. When one did, the Alaskan Assassin was able to get the pass off, which resulted in a pretty decent shot. Was it a goal? No. Was it an opportunity? Yes! Was it hard-work and determination that often inspires the rest of the team? YES! It’s been a bit of a missing factor in a lot of games recently, that drive and determination that was always present last season and overflowing during the Cup Run.
Though last night’s game was great, always is when the Lightning win and even more so if it’s done in dramatic fashion (thank you Stammer), there is a lingering question that is left to be answered. Have the Lightning returned to form? Unfortunately I can’t read a crystal ball and I lost my Magic 8-Ball years ago, so I’m going to need to see how they play on the upcoming road trip, especially against San Jose.
I’m wanting to see this intensity continue and carry the team up the rankings, it has been sorely missed, and has been missing at the worst time. With injuries to both Mattias Ohlund and Marty St. Louis, the last thing this team needed to lose was its intensity. Last night, the Bolts had found it again, without needing a lightning rod offered up by the other team to focus on. It came from within, without provocation by the opposing team and it drove them to a 5-4 OT Win. It’s that intensity which was present last night which, for me, is what defines Lightning Hockey. Here’s to it sticking around!
Take care and take it easy,
-Black Sheep Jim