Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Tampa Bay Lightning Make Strong Push for Home Ice Advantage

te·nac·i·ty – təˈnasitē – noun:

  1. the quality or fact of being able to grip something firmly; grip.
    “the sheer tenacity of the limpet”

Tenacity.  It’s one of the things I love most about this 2013-14 Tampa Bay Lightning hockey team.  They make mistakes and they fall behind.  But damn-it-all if they don’t get it back together again down the road. Give it their best try, and fix what needed fixing as quick as you like.  As quick as possible.

You can’t deny that the Lightning, despite defensive breakdowns or what-have-you, never fail to grip most of their games, firmly, with passion and intent.  And never let bad stretches go on for much longer than the fan base can stomach.

After a rather underwhelming return to the ice post-Olympic break, when the fear of losing a playoff spot was very real, the Bolts managed to right the ship and continue on with expectations.  The expectation being:  This year is special.  This year is a playoff year.

Go on a eleven-game point streak then lose two gaff-filled games, at the tail end of a very important stretch of regular season games, that may decide first round seeding?  Well, why don’t you come back from such letdowns with two big wins (Toronto and Philadelphia) at the precise moment two big wins are most needed?  When two big wins (and some luck) might just put you guys back in the hunt for home ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs.  And they do.  They win two big games right when it counted most, right when luck was on our side (and the New York Islanders); now the Bolts are within one point of the Montreal Canadiens (98 points) with two games left to go in the regular season.

If the Habs lose their final regular season game against the New York Rangers on Saturday then all the Bolts have to do is win one of their final two games (Columbus Blue Jackets today and the Washington Capitals on Sunday) to clinch home ice advantage.  If Montreal wins or gets a point then Tampa Bay has to win both games (Habs have the ROW advantage in the case of a tie).

Bottom line:  The Lightning control their own destiny.

And if they continue to play the way I’ve seen them play against Toronto, and against Philadelphia last night, then the Bolts hold a great deal of destiny in their hands.

Ben Bishop may be down for now, though, based on the relative calm exuding from the Lightning camp I tend to think he’ll be ready by the first round against Montreal at some point; meanwhile, Anders Lindback has shown some true mettle – some true tenacity – stepping up when needed after seldom seeing much playing time of late ( and many argue he should have been, especially now).  I think a lot of Lightning fans knew this level of play was there, somewhere, or hoping so at least.  I tend to belive it was there, below the surface, aching to come out and show everyone who was the man.

And I couldn’t be more proud to see Lindback illustrate the kind of poise and skill that he has over the past two games, when the Lightning needed him to, and to prove so many naysayers wrong.  And Lindy has a fair share of naysayers (even me from time to time).

If Lindback is truly showing his best stuff, his true stuff, then he couldn’t have picked a better time to do it.  A tandem of Bish and Lindy, playing like we know they can, right now of all times, could very well take this Lightning team deep into the Stanley Cup hunt, if not to the final happy hunting grounds.

It’s a tall order, I know, and it certainly won’t be easy.  And many likely think it isn’t going to happen with the amount of legimate teams coming out of the West with a bid for the finals (not to mention the Pens and the Bruins in our own conference).  But excuse me for having the same tenacity of faith that this Lightning team plays with, so often, that they can do many wonderful and amazing things when they know they need to.

That’s character.  And character can win the Stanley Cup, when it’s backed up by talent, hunger, and tenacity.

And two hella good goaltenders with a firm, quality grip on something they both don’t want to let go of.

Like on a limpet, for example.  Whatever a limpet is.

 

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.

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Tags: Anders Lindback Ben Bishop Tampa Bay Lightning

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