After the Lightning’s loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins Sunday afternoon, woes from fans rained down on the team. Fans were immediately complaining about all of the issues the Lightning have. As if those of us who pay attention to the team don’t already know what is wrong. Maybe it’s the defense? Or the goal tending? Sometimes, it seems like the offense is a weak point as well. How about the character of the team? Oh, and what about the lack of experience with the team? We can go on and on about what the Lightning are doing wrong this year. However, if I asked you how to fix those problems, how would you answer? Most people do not know what to do with this team, and yet they still complain about how terrible the play is. This is why Steve Yzerman has his job as Lightning GM. This is why Coach Guy Boucher is coaching the team. They know exactly what needs to be done. However, as fans, we live for today. We don’t live for the next few years.
The Lightning are on a seven game losing streak, which is obvious for the most part. The three games to begin this month were not fun to watch. 7-3, 4-1, and 3-1 losses to the Leafs, Senators, and Canadiens are all tough to take. But the last four losses have been a little closer than the scoreboard says (outside of the 5-2 loss to Carolina).
After being outscored 4-2 in the first two periods against the Canucks this past Tuesday, the Lightning rallied back for 2 goals in the third to tie the game against the top team in the west. This is a team that is likely to be one of the Stanley Cup favorites this year. This team was also in the finals last year. Needless to say, Vancouver has a pretty good team. However, the Lightning were able to rally back to tie the game in the third down 2 goals.
After a bad 5-2 loss to the Hurricanes on Thursday, the Lightning flew into Washington Friday. Once again, the Lightning were down. This time, by three goals about midway through the game. However, the Lightning once again did not give up. One goal in the second period made the score 3-1 for the Caps going into the third period. The Lightning then made it 3-2 when Stamkos scored his 30th goal of the year on a powerplay. However, the Lightning gave up an empty netter, which made it 4-2. The Lightning scored a third goal to bring it to a one goal game, but it was a little late. The third goal came with under 11 seconds remaining in the game, and the Caps escaped with a 4-3 win.
The Penguins visited the Lightning on Sunday afternoon after snapping their own loosing skid by beating the Panthers 4-1 Friday night in Sunrise. After falling behind 2-0 halfway through the first period Sunday, it looked as if the Penguins were on their way to an easy win against the Lightning. The Penguins added to their bid for an effortless win by scoring a third goal 34 seconds into the third period. However, the Lightning roared back to score 3 goals and tie the game before Malkin took over and scored a natural hat trick to finish off the Lightning. Once again, the Lightning faced extreme adversity. Once again, they did not simply give up.
My point is, in all of the three losses I just discussed, the Lightning could have easily rolled over and gave the opposing team an easy win. However, they didn’t. To all of those who think Boucher has lost the team; what do you think about the last few games? Did you not see the spirited attempts at coming back in games the team had no business being in? How many teams come back to tie a game against the Penguins when down 3 goals in the third? How many teams comeback against the Canucks when down late? Not too many. So, Boucher does in fact have an influence on his team. The ‘be relentless’ attitude does not come from no where; it is Boucher’s doing. Sure, maybe the team does not have the skill yet, or the experience, to completely overcome the amount of adversity that is being thrown in the team’s face. However, no amount of coaching can teach experience. The solution? Patience.