The Lightning have been holding on to playoff hopes by a thread. It is within their reach, but they have to play a full 60 minutes of hockey. That seems to be an ongoing problem this year. While the team has worked out a lot of their kinks that were slowing them down earlier in the season, like their defensive play and power plays, they still can’t seem to keep it up for 3 periods. If they want to go all the way and actually make it to the Stanley Cup Finals, they have got to find a way to keep the effort alive the entire time. The opposing team in the SCFs will surly be playing hard for all 60 minutes! They will be going up against the best in the league. Do I think they have it in them to do it? No, I don’t. I KNOW that they do. Do I think that they will find a way to fix this problem? ABSOLUTELY. I just hope that it doesn’t come too little too late. Look at the defense. It still lacks in some areas, especially in last night’s 3rd period against The Washington Capitals, but they are stepping up and helping the goaltender out. While a good goaltender is essential, it’s not their sole responsibility to hold up the entire game to pick up the slack of the defense. They block the puck from going in the net, it’s the defense’s job to get that rebound and get it out of the zone. Too many times they seem to start out great, and by the 3rd period they are playing what appears to be cat and mouse. They just chase the puck around, instead of keeping control of the puck and holding onto possession. Too much time is spent in the other zone, the offense can’t take the shots because the puck is in front of our own net! The Shots on goal is something that has improved dramatically. Except for in the 3rd period of last night’s game. They have been doing a great job on penalty kills, and even reducing the penalties. The power play is also something that has improved. At this point just two months ago when announcer Paul Porter would announce “THIS is a Teeeecccoooo Energy POWER PLAY!!” I would shake my head and think to myself “No, it’s not. This is a short handed goal opportunity for the opposing team.” I know, I know. That’s rude. But seriously, that’s what it was! In last night’s game alone they scored 2 power play goals! All of the hard power play drills that Coach Boucher has been putting them through in practice is finally paying off. Last night’s game against The Washington Capitals was a winnable game. The Lightning came from behind and tied it up. They had several opportunities to take the lead at the end, but didn’t take the necessary shots. Even in overtime the fire just wasn’t there. Coach Boucher kept his calm demeanor in his post game interview, but the underlying frustration was clear. He called the last 2 plays dumb. I quote “That was a dumb dumb dumb dumb play, those last 2 plays.” He said that going up there and getting 1 point isn’t supposed to be disappointing. It was disappointing because they should have gotten 2. Coach Boucher is the type of guy who is content with a loss if the team plays well, but if they don’t play well, he’s unhappy even if they win. The result of 1 point instead of 2 was because of the 3rd period lack of play, and the overtime lack of play. He made the point that there are a lot of guys seeing a lot of ice time right now, and young guys have to learn. He touched on the defense with 4 guys being in the corner, and leaving the Capitals players wide open. “We sabotaged ourselves.”, Boucher commented. He said that they didn’t push the pace like they should have. Guys were chipping the puck in and changing instead of keeping the play going and keeping it in our zone.
He said that Mike Green‘s elbow hit to Brett Connolly‘s head was clear, but he wasn’t upset with the referee for not calling it as it happened so fast and they can’t see everything that happens on the ice. He complimented Dustin Tokarski on his 1st NHL start. He has played briefly in a couple of games with us for an injured goaltender, but this was his first start and full game in the NHL. His nerves had to be running wild, with starting against a known rival and the playoff hopes on the line. All eyes were on “Tic”. He remained calm and collected, he did a great job in his debut. However dehydration got to the 22 year old, about 5 minutes into the 3rd period his body started cramping. At one point he couldn’t move his hands. He told media post game that he experienced pain in his knees, quadriceps, calves, and elbows. He almost had to leave due to the severity of the pain, but he stuck through it and finished with 29 saves. They had to give him two doses of intravenous sodium chloride solution. I’m not sure he’s completely NHL ready yet, but he’s been doing great for the Norfolk Admirals in the AHL. I adore Dwayne Roloson and as much as I’d like to see him get a start and have a good game, a chance to redeem himself, I would like to see Tic get another start. Hopefully against The Carolina Hurricanes tomorrow night, and hopefully he will have plenty of fluids in him so there’s no dehydration this time.
Marc-Andre Bergeron had a successful surgery in New York on Thursday to repair a bulging disc that was causing irritation to his sciatic nerve.
Bruno Gervais continues to be out of the lineup with an upper-body injury and there is no time table as to his return.
Steven Stamkos leads the league in both goals and points, and after last night’s game, he is on a 6 game point streak.
Stamkos also matches the NHL single-season record, an honor currently shared by 10 other players dating back to the 1929-30 season, with four over time goals.
Teddy Purcell had a goal and 2 points. He is on fire with a career high 11 game point streak. In that stretch, he has 7 goals and 11 points.
Keith Aucoin (2) Tip-In – Assists: K. Alzner (13) & J. Halpern (11) 17:08 Washington
PPG – Ryan Malone (12) Tip-In – Assists: S.Stamkos (34) & T. Purcell (35) 7:25 Tampa Bay
PPG – Teddy Purcell (20) Wrist Shot – Assists: M. St.Louis (40) & B. Clark (11) 18:42 Tampa Bay
Marcus Johansson (13) Wrist Shot – Assists: D. Wideman (31) 16:02 Washington
Alexander Ovechkin (27) Wrist Shot – Assists: D. Orlov (12) & J. Chimera (16) 4:09 Washington
Eric Brewer 2 minutes tripping 14:47
Dennis Wideman 2 minutes boarding 6:58
Mathieu Perreault 2 minutes hi-sticking 8:44
Jay Beagle 2 minutes holding 17:46
Eric Brewer 2 minutes interference 00.36