After the Tampa Bay Lightning (12-4-0) won last night’s road game against the Detroit Red Wings on Nov. 9, in overtime, for the first time since 1994, when I was still comfortably wrapped up in the warm security blanket of recent victory, having just witnessed Teddy Purcell’s game winner at 3:51 in OT – that’s when I saw it…the next broadcast.
Next up on the Lightning three-game road trip: the Boston Bruins.
*Insert dramatic orchestral score*
The Dun-dun-DUN! variety.
Tampa Bay has yet to find an answer to the Boston question this season so far. The Lightning dropped their season opener 3-1 to the Bruins at TD Garden on Oct. 3 in a much more tightly contested game than the score indicates.
If not for some costly mistakes at their blue line (as well as on the power play) the Lightning might have been in contention to win that game.
And I certainly went into the Oct. 19 rematch against the visiting Bruins with that in mind.
Until that game happened that is.
The Lightning lost an ugly one to the Bruins at the Tampa Bay Times Forum, as Boston shutout the Bolts 5-0 on home ice.
These struggles with Boston date back to last season where the Bolts failed to win any of those four regular season meetings either. The Bruins have shutdown the Lighting power play on 9 opportunities and reduced red-hot center Steven Stamkos (who is riding a 13-point streak through eight games) to zero points in both games.
And when you look at the Oct. 19 game stats (which believe me I did and I’m still shaking my head in disgust) the game resembled something a bit more even-handed than leaning towards any one team.
Shots were just about even (TB 23, BOS 22), face off wins the same (32 BOS, 31 TB), giveaways (BOS 8, TB 7), and takeaways were respectively even (TB 9, BOS 5). Both teams had identical penalty minutes (25); translating into four chances apiece on the power play.
Leading me to the possible conclusion that the Oct. 19 game was more fluke than an example of how the current Tampa Bay team stacks up against Boston.
Boston can be beat.
Either way we’ll find out Monday Nov. 11 in Boston.
If Tampa Bay has any hope in hell of extending its current season-best, four-game winning streak to five games, the Lightning needs to solve the Boston riddle at TD Garden tomorrow, and they need to keep answering it throughout the rest of the season.
What good does it do the current Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference leading Lightning team to beat all the Western Conference teams and stomp the occasional divisional butt if Boston and Pittsburgh stand in their way of making it to the dance?
Ah, man. The Pittsburgh Penguins. Don’t even get me started on them.
*Insert heartwrenching harmonica tune*
Or better yet: the Eric Clapton-Lethal Weapon Guitar Riff variety.
It took me a whole week to look up from my shoes after that Oct. 12 loss.
I’ll catch up on the Pens before the Lightning play them again on Nov. 29 for their second of three meetings in the 2013-14 season (the third and final game coming in late March).