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Off the Dot: Tampa Bay Lightning face resurging Islanders at the Forum – Part One

Off the Dot is an ongoing column of opinions, feelings and thoughts on all things Tampa Bay Lightning.  This is a knee-jerk reaction column for the many things that a fan maybe feels or thinks throughout a hockey season.

This is NOT a stat by stat analysis of the Bolts, but rather a theater of words concerning the Lightning and the many emotions tangled up in supporting your favorite NHL team; a theater for all fans to come to for a more personal take on Tampa Bay hockey.

That’s why I call it “off the dot”.  Because if we were “on the dot”, as in face-off mode, well, things would be decidedly more on-point and specific.  While off the dot, while we’re still just milling around the face-off circle, as I am now, waiting for the whistle to blow, then we’re just being conversational.  We’re just talking about our thoughts on strategy maybe or whatever random concept happens to come to mind, needing to be expressed.  The fun off-key banter of fans before someone (whoever) decides to hunker down, spread out their skates, and get nose-deep over the dot for the real face-off, and maybe say, statistically speaking, what happened in a win or loss in their more researched opinion.  And we have those articles all over Bolts by the Bay, and I very much encourage you to check out those articles too.

These are just my opinions, my feelings, and my thoughts – while we’re off the dot.


Today, I’m going to a Lightning game.

I’m bringing my son (his second game) and my best friend (the Isles fan you might recall me mentioning way back, once upon a time that still has a soft spot for the Lightning) and we’re hitting up a Bolts game, my first of the New Year, against the aforementioned New York Islanders, as it turns out.

It’s kind of part of my Christmas present to said best friend.  Take him to see his favorite team when they’re in town and playing the Bolts.

Of course now, I’m sort of regretting it, because the Isles have really been resurging of late (despite losing to the Panthers on Tuesday, which might push them more to win tonight against the Lightning than really be a sign of the end of their surge) and unless the Lightning is prepared for a fight, it’s not so much of a given as it maybe was back in December (when I bought the tickets) that Tampa Bay will run away with this game.

If they don’t show up prepared for a fight, and the Isles win, then I have to deal with my best friend’s potential smug comments (not really, I play) about the loss and well, that’s tough on a friendship.

But I’ve had weeks to prepare my mind for such an occurrence (the Bolts have been a bit back-and-forth lately for me to feel confident, though if Bishop is starting, we got a pretty good shot), and I believe I’m ready.  I hope the Bolts are even more ready than I am to win this game and prevent me from having to suffer such an awkward drive home.

Because if his Isles lose I think he might be better at handling that loss than me if the Bolts take a header tonight (he is an Isles fan after all).

The Lightning did win the first meeting between these two teams 3-2 in a shootout back on Dec. 17.

And they had to come back to do it.  A page from the Isles’ own playbook of late.

But the Bolts didn’t look so good that I feel overtly confident today just yet.  But I have seen a lot of good things over the last few weeks of games (since the Christmas break) that lead me to believe they’ve got a shot to turn tonight’s game into the second win on a new streak of wins, and we really need them.

I’ll be there with my Islanders friend and my son, and my Islanders friend’s friend who is also an Islanders fan (but I warned him to tone that Islanders optimism thing down), cheering the Bolts on and being the thunder.

I will hope that this small gesture is enough to make a difference in their play on the ice.  It certainly has to do more good than yelling at a television.


This was part one.  I will conclude this small little series of columns tomorrow at some point with part two; a summary of events at the game, and my reaction to whatever takes place between the two Eastern Conference teams.


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