Tonight, The Tampa Bay Lightning travel to the American capital to face-off against Alexander Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals. Coming off of two recent loses at home, the first a shootout loss to the Vancouver Canucks and last night’s surprising 5-2 defeat delivered by the Carolina Hurricanes, the Bolts have now dropped five straight. This will be the second time these two divisional rivals face each other since the season started. The first contest, also held in Washington, ended with a 6-5 Capitals victory. Needless to say, the Boys in Blue are looking for a positive result in Washington tonight against a reawakening Capitals team.
As the Capitals appear to be finding their stride and gelling with new bench-boss, Dale Hunter, the Lightning appear to be stumbling more and more, occasionally, though rarely, finding the resolve to regain control. Now there have been a number of injuries to key personnel since the beginning of the season, which has hurt the team, but it should not have affected the play as badly as it has been.
What does the Lightning need to do?
First, that corps of blue-liners needs to remember Defense First, Chances to Score Second. They need to be aggressive on the puck and the body when the opposing team is on the attack. Don’t just let them enter the zone as if they’ve been invited to Dwayne Roloson’s or Mathieu Garon’s birthday parties. A number of the goals that have been scored on both our net-minders, leading to them being chased out from between the pipes, could have been prevented with solid defensive play.
Secondly, the Power Play needs to well, be POWERFUL. It has been seriously lacking on all facets. It has led me to wish that Coach Guy Boucher had the ability to decline PPs but instead not only do we have to kill an opposing team’s PP we now have to kill our own. For too many times now, we have lost the momentum from shoddy play during the PP, giving up numerous scoring chances to the opposing team (not to mention 6 Short Handed Goals). It’s time our special teams stop acting special and start playing with power and authority.
Lastly, this mentality of entitlement that was recently mentioned by Martin St. Louis, is still somewhat prevalent amongst the team. As Coach Guy Boucher was recently quoted when asked about last night’s match-up with Carolina, “I don’t think we’re being very respectful to teams like Carolina, or anybody else that is a little bit lower in the standings than the top-three teams in the conference,” he continued, “We can’t have that, period. We’re not in a position to think that we’re better than any other team.” It is very disturbing to me to think that the team is still playing with an entitled mentality, it was the exact opposite of why we flourished as well as we did in last year’s Cup Run, the team wanted to and needed to prove they were worthy of it, not that they deserved it.
All in all, it is a tall order that must be filled by the Bolts to get this campaign back on track, and at least back to a bit of respectability. Best of luck to the Tampa Bay Lightning tonight! Be RELENTLESS. Be the THUNDER.
Look for the puck to drop at 7:00PM tonight. The game will be televised on NHL Network, SunSports, and CSN-MA.
Take care and take it easy,