Tonight was Mike Commodore’s and Brian Lee’s first game wearing the colors of the Tampa Bay Lightning. With an injured blue-line, many members of Bolts Nation were hoping that they would not only fill the holes left by Hedman and Ohlund, but also would enhance our defensive corps. After 60 crazy minutes of hockey, I feel safe in saying they have accomplished both.
Coach Guy Boucher had them paired together on the third defensive line for tonight’s tilt, and they looked as comfortable with each other (and the Lightning system) as if they had been playing together all season. Both made key plays throughout the game. From Brian Lee’s crushing hit (video) on Palushaj to keep the puck in the offensive zone to Commodore constantly putting himself in the way of oncoming Habs‘ shots.
Commodore who is 6’4″/227lbs and Lee 6’3″/205lbs bring some much needed size to our blue-line and with it, they made sure to make lasting impressions (with which Palushaj would agree). Both were constantly clearing the front of the net (sometimes quite forcefully of course) of Habs skaters to ensure Garon had clear vision to make the more routine saves he made tonight. Not to mention both were winning battles behind the net to get the puck out of the defensive end.
Not only did the pair play solidly during even strength hockey, but both contributed quite well on the Penalty Kill, especially during the 5 Minute Major called on Malone. Throwing their weight around stymied the Habs’ power play from hits to blocked shots to just grinding it out in the corners, these two had a big hand in tonight’s win.
The play of these two have got me excited about the possible future of our blue-line corps if they are to stick around in Tampa Bay. I feel that their game in Tampa will only get better as they get more and more accustomed to Coach Guy Boucher’s system. Now we just have to wait and see how Keith Aulie fits in once he gets his work visa approved.
Here are the final stats for the two:
Mike Commodore: TOI 15:32 | BS 3 | Hits 4 | +/- 0 | Shifts 24
Brian Lee: TOI 15:31 | BS 2 | Hits 2 | +/- 1 | Shifts 22
On a side note, the International Skater of Mystery, Evan Oberg had another solid outing for the Lightning. I think he’s just happy to have his feet on the ice and not the floor of a 737.
As always Bolts fans #betheTHUNDER and #beRELENTLESS!
Take care and take it easy,
- Jim Courteau