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.
“Is Ben Bishop there?”
Ben Bishop answered the call for the Tampa Bay Lightning yesterday afternoon in their 2-1 OT win over the Montreal Canadiens Saturday at the Bell Center, and I’m pretty sure I can speak for the entirety of the Bolts Nation when I say, while issuing our collective sigh of relief: “Thank you, Ben Bishop, for answering that pesky call yesterday afternoon. We really needed that win.”
Thought to be out for the count (or at the very least be out for the Montreal game) after taking a header against teammate Nikita Kucherov’s skate early in the first period on Thursday against the Ottawa Senators, while attempting to disrupt a play outside of the crease: “Big” Ben Bishop answered the call for his team against the Habs, winning his 27th game off 28 saves.
News of him actually playing splashed across Twitter, Bleacher/Report, and Facebook simultaneously it seemed moments before the start of the game, after a near ceaseless debate the previous day (and night) about who head coach Jon Cooper would be forced to put in net (Cedrick Desjardins or Kristers Gudlevskis? Both were called up on Friday from the Syracuse Crunch) if Bishop was unable to suit up, and with backup goalie Anders Lindback out indefinitely with a sprained ankle, Cooper’s options were rather limited.
And let me take a quick moment here to tip my hat in the general direction of Lindback for stepping up himself on Thursday to play that full game against the Sens despite suffering his ankle injury during that Cory Conacher collision in the goal mouth.
We may have lost the game but I respect the hell out of Lindback for doing the best he could to play when he knew the team had no other option.
But anyways, back to The Bish.
It came as a revelation to hear that he was playing yesterday and he played like Thursday never happened.
He even got into a fight.
A fight I missed because I was doing that whole drive to work thing, but I heard about it on the radio and eventually saw footage of the fight on our own Bolts by the Bay web page (thanks, Tasha, for posting that by the way because I missed it and was kind of hoping you’d have something up).
You can view the video here, as well, if you missed it like I did.
Bishop’s answering of the call is sort of a microcosm of this Tampa Bay Lightning team as a whole. They get banged up, beaten, in some cases broken (*sniff* Stammer), but they always get back up and get back on that ice and win hockey games.
Yesterday’s efforts are a prime example of that. Bish got hurt, yes, but he was back when the team needed him, answering that call, doing his part to ensure the Bolts won another game, secured two more points, and placed one more confident step forward towards this season’s ultimate goal: the playoffs.
This team took a body blow on Thursday against the Sens after losing two key players one after the other (Bishop and Valtteri Filppula) and losing the game against an opponent they usually dispatch with greater ease. But instead of settling into that line of negative thinking (where I think losing streaks spring from) and letting the losses start piling up, the Bolts rallied around the example set by Bishop, and the microcosm he represents, pulled together and played a complete game against a very tough divisional opponent, and won it because they played to their potential.
And with a little help from P.K. Subban. Thanks, man.
And yes, they won it in overtime, it was still pretty close, score-wise, but all three games against the Habs have been forced into overtime and all three games have been decided by one goal (with identical scores of 2-1 as well).
The score, despite being close, is misleading. The Bolts controlled that game for the majority of the 64 minutes and 36 seconds of play, and their resiliency and tenacity of play throughout this season, as it was on Saturday, is why I love my Lightning team so much, and believe in them so thoroughly.
The Lightning of 2013-14 do not know how to quit, how to not give it their best, how to give in. They only know how to strive forward and win another game for Tampa Bay.
They only know how to answer that call when the phone sets to ringing.
Ring, Ring. The phone’s ringing again in Minnesota on Tuesday. You can surely bet that it is.
Who is going to pick it up this time?