There’s no doubt about it that Thursday’s game against the New York Rangers was down right embarrassing for the Tampa Bay Lightning. The shots weren’t there. The intensity wasn’t there. We can definitely say that turnovers were there, however.
Sami Salo and Ryan Malone will both be out today due to injuries. They might be able to return to the line up. as soon as Monday. Richard Panik was sent back down to the Syracuse Crunch. Pierre-Cedric Labrie will be in and Adam Hall is the scratch. Mathieu Garon will be in net.
Pierre-Cedric Labrie might not be the most coordinated or speedy skater, however, he is a big body presence that carries the weight of intimidation on the ice. He has an Ora about him that most people love. He’s not afraid to take a hit or administer one, and he will drop the gloves if he needs to. He will energize the team and encourage them.
Encouragement is something that they need right now. After Thursday’s game in New York, Steven Stamkos, Victor Hedman and Mathieu Garon sounded extremely discouraged. It wasn’t anger. I could detect a bit of frustration, but definitely discouragement. They had a really bad game. Lately it’s been hit or miss. There are several things that we could sit here and analyze. The most apparent are:
Defense: They need to stop the turn overs. The Bolts spend most of their time in their own zone, defending the net, instead of in enemy territory so they can shoot. They need to stand up on the blue line and keep the puck in the zone. Period.
Offense: The forwards aren’t taking shots. It’s as simple as that! It’s hard to take shots when you aren’t on the right side of the ice. Unless they want to shoot at their own net, they have not had many opportunities for shots. It’s pass pass pass pass, and no shooting.
Power Plays: It’s frustrating to watch the power plays. It is more like a short handed goal opportunity for the opposing team. They rush the net and stop, pass the puck about a thousand times, setting it up for that pretty goal. I’m not saying just shoot the puck randomly and lose it on the rebound, but at least shooting it when there is a bit of an opportunity would be good. They aren’t shooting it at all. They seem to be looking for the perfect time to make the goal, and that time never comes. They had 6 power plays in one game last week and didn’t score. One of those power plays had a 5 on 3!
Penalty Kills: This is one thing that they have going for them. They are strong on the penalty kills. They fought off a 5 on 3 against New York. An alternative would be to stop the penalties, but some are necessary.
Goaltending: Mathieu Garon has been amazing. I’m not ready to give up on Anders Lindback, as he is still growing. He has the potential to be amazing, and I have no doubt that he will. Garon has held up the team on his shoulders, especially Thursday night with the ridiculous number of shots that he faced.
One more point is that Coach Boucher pulls the goaltender to add an extra man on the ice. They are doing a great job at not letting them score on the empty net, however, it does happen. The Lightning don’t capitalize on the extra man advantage during power plays, why would they do so with the goaltender pulled?
The team had an intense practice yesterday. In the a pregame interview Steven Stamkos seemed to be determined to play a different game today. He said in so many words that they are professionals and they know what they did wrong, and they know what they need to do today.
Today is a new day. This is a new game. Boston is always a hard team to face, especially when they play at T.D. Garden. A win would be great, however, we just want to see some fight and intensity in the Lightning’s game. Play a full 60 minutes of hockey, not just the last 3. So you had a bad game. (or couple of games.) Shake it off and skate. Bring back the relentlessness of last year!