The Tampa Bay Lightning fought the New York Islanders tonight on Long Island. For the first time in it’s past five games, they failed to pick up a point. This was head coach Jon Cooper’s first loss in regulation. Newly acquired goal tender Ben Bishop had a hole in his superhero cape. Three of them, to be exact. The final score was 4-2, the last New York goal being an empty netter. With that said, I only put the responsibility of one goal on Bishop. The other three could have been avoided if the team was playing like a team. The last one some can argue that was unavoidable being there was no one to guard the net. If the team had performed for the other 58 minutes of the game, Coach Cooper wouldn’t have had to of left the net empty to add the extra man on the ice.
Wasn’t that one of the complaints with Guy Boucher? That the team just wasn’t showing up for the first two periods of the game, and towards the end of the third they realized that they were on the ice and played… leaving him no choice but to open up the net to give the extra man? The other complaint with him was the Power Play juice, or lack there of. Tonight the Lightning was 3-0 on Power Plays. Why pull the goaltender at the end when they don’t capitalize on the extra man advantage in the power play? Two obvious turn overs both lead to goals. Lack of puck possession and failure to keep the puck in the zone also contributed. So … you mean to tell me that this all wasn’t Coach Boucher’s fault after all? *gasp* Or perhaps Coach Cooper is losing the team in the locker room already. Ah-oh. Maybe we should fire him!!! (Yes, I’m being sarcastic.)
All I can say is that so many are expecting the team to stay in this ‘transformation’ that they seem to of been in since Cooper has come on board, and even more so with Ben Bishop in net. I’m afraid that the expectations on Bishop are too high, and a bit unrealistic. I think that it will be a couple of more games before people start to complain about Bishop, and saying that Steve Yzerman messed this trade up. Some have felt that way from the start, mind you, but I’m talking about the majority from what comments I’ve read on social media. I think that Bishop and Anders Lindback both will be solid goaltenders, given time direction. (The proper direction.) The rest of the team – the forwards and the defense – has the potential to be a major force to be reckoned with. However they have to snap out of the lazy skate. They are playing like they are through a cloud, and can’t expect Ben Bishop to carry the weight of the team.
In the first period, they Bolts had a shot at two Power Plays when Thomas Hickey got 2 minutes for cross checking at 6:37 and 2 minutes for hooking was served by Frans Nielsen. At 14:45 Michael Grabner slapped one past Bishop, opening the scoring with the only goal of the first. The second period was a bit more animated. Radko Gudas served 2 for holding at 11:38. The Lightning successfully killed the penalty. At 15:02 Jesse Joensuu gave the Bolts their last shot at a Power Play with 2 minutes for hi-sticking. At 4:44 Richard Panik put the Lightning on the board with a snap shop from a sweet feed by Vincent Lecavalier. Matthiew Carle got the second assist on the play. Josh Bailey put the Islanders in the lead at 8:22 with a wrist shot. The Third period had no penalties called, and Matt Carle tied the score at 4:00 with a backhand assisted by Steven Stamkos and Benoit Pouliot. New York’s Matt Martin took care of the tie with wrist shot at 13:34. Jon Cooper called for Ben Bishop to skate off for the extra man advantage. Andrew MacDonald took assault in the empty net with a wrist shot, and secured an Islander’s win with a 2 goal lead at 19:46.
The game could have been a lot worse. Could have been a lot better, too. The Islanders have swept the Lightning this season.
According to the Lightning’s game recap, Keith Aulie said “We’re playing ever game like it’s Game 7 of the playoffs,” the defenseman said. “We know what’s at stake, we know what the standings are, but we’re focusing and just taking it game by game.”
If THIS is playing like it’s Game 7 of the playoffs, then I don’t see how they made it this far. They wouldn’t make it to 5 games in round 1. They can’t blame the refs on this one.
Tomorrow night is a new night, guys. You are much better than this! Get it together and don’t let the standings pre-tell how the game against the Washington Capitals is going to play out. GO FOR IT and get Ovechkin.