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.
I came, I saw – I was kind of disappointed.
But ultimately, because I was physically at the game, I had a great time (as always at the Tampa Bay Times Forum) with my son and my friends.
The Tampa Bay Lightning hosted the visiting New York Islanders for the first time this season at the Forum (the second and last visit of the season for the Isles is coming on March 27, probably going to that one, too) and for much of the game it looked to be dead-even between the two Eastern Conference teams (both clubs recorded 29 shots on goal and won 33 face-offs a piece).
The Bolts scored early on a power play during the first frame, compliments of Martin St. Louis (LOUIE LOUIE!), then the Isles tallied their own goal (Thomas Vanek) in the second period to even things out; where it remained through to the end of regulation and five-more minutes of overtime.
New York captured the game (and the two points) during a one-round shootout, scoring a lone goal on the first tilt (Frans Nielsen), whereas Tampa Bay neglected to score any shootout goals (Valtteri Filppula, Nikita Kucherov, Victor Hedman – all shut down); evening out the season series 1-1 between the two teams in 2013-14.
Islander goaltender Kevin Poulin proved to have just as hot a night in goal as the Lightning’s “keeper of the pipes” Ben Bishop (in his second start back from injury), holding off all-comers; one-by-one. Bishop did, in fact, shutdown Vanek in the second tilt, but Nielsen’s goal was all the Isles needed for the win.
And that, as they say, was that.
As mentioned in Part One (of this two-part little series of Off the Dot columns, which I have no idea why I did it like this, just trying something new), I had with me at this game two Islanders fans in my company. You can imagine how pleased they were of the win.
I will say this much, they are so gracious in victory (for the most part and in comparison to Flyers fans) that you almost can’t help yourself in feeling slightly empathetic towards them.
At least I was (we did get a point after all), if only briefly, because well, they’re Islanders fans (and my friends) and I had to drive home with both of them, and that’s awkward.
So, you just have to take the high road in that situation.
You also feel slightly compelled, I find with Islanders fans, like with those sad, deserted pound puppies in those Sarah McClachlan commercials of old, to throw them a bone from time to time, or shelter their fragile feelings from harm if it is preventable to do so.
It is a very small solace, I know (and extremely elaborated), but what can you do when the Islanders, of all teams, strolls into your house and beats your team?
In my case, you become a better sportsman (maybe sportswatcher, fan?) and an even better friend. And you still call shotgun on the ride home nevertheless (score).
I hate it when my team loses (which they’ve been especially prone to doing lately in alternating games) and obviously I would have preferred the full two-points (and I know I’m not alone there, Bolts Nation, what-what), much like we did back in December (3-2 S/O) when we came back to beat the Isles on their home ice (just like the Islanders often do to their opponents)in glorious, intense, white-knuckle action.
But it wasn’t in the cards for the Bolts to do so last night, despite my fervent wishes to the contrary. And with the Boston Bruins winning their game last night against the Dallas Stars, the Lightning settles back into second place in the Atlantic Division with 61 points to the Bruins’ division leading 62.
Tampa Bay still has some kinks to work out in the Forum (as they’ve dropped the last four games 0-2-2), and hopefully they get those wrinkles ironed out by tomorrow afternoon because the San Jose Sharks are in town, and if the Lightning had a hard time getting one measly point from the New York Islanders, we’re going to have one hell of a time getting two-points away from the No. 4 in the West (No. 5 in the league) “Sharknadoes”.
(*Oh yeah* And, I’d like to congratulate Victor Hedman on playing in his 300th NHL game last night. Way to go, Hedy! Glad I was able to be there with friends and family to share in your special night.)