This series certainly has not started off the way that the Tampa Bay Lightning would have planned; however, in the post season, there is no time to dwell on a loss. Tonight, the Lightning head out on the road to the Bell Centre where they will take on the Montreal Canadiens in Game 3 of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The Lightning have certainly faced their fair share of adversity in the past, and under normal circumstances, they have been pretty good at overcoming it; however, when faced with a number of unanswered cheap shots and a couple of disappointing injuries, the Lightning have found themselves pretty far off their game.
As Lightning Head Coach Jon Cooper said, we shouldn’t expect to see Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop anytime soon. As you already know, Bishop has been on the sidelines since April 8th against the Toronto Maple Leafs when he injured himself making an acrobatic save in the opening minutes of the game.
Another injury that has really done some damage to the team’s chemistry is the injury to Lightning left wing Ondrej Palat. The 23 year old Lightning rookie is currently listed as day to day with an upper body injury. He was said to be a game time decision in Game 2; however, he was ultimately sidelined yet again having re-aggravating his injury in game one of the series.
At this point, it is unclear if he will be available for Game 3.
As I have said on numerous occasions before, the Tampa Bay Lightning has all of the tools that they need to be successful in this series. They proved in the regular season that they have what it takes to beat the Canadiens. They did take the season series 3-1.
If the Lightning wants to get back into this series and have a hope of moving on to the next round, there are a few things that they are going to have to tie up.
The first of those things is something that I have been harping on all season long. They are going to have to lie off of the overpassing. Furthermore, the blind passes. While I have always been a proponent of quality over quantity, when you have only 25 Shots on Goal through almost four full periods of play, there is something really wrong with that. The point of the matter is that you cannot score if you do not shoot.
Second, they are going to have to start getting in front of the puck and giving Anders Lindback some support in front of the net. While the defense has made some key blocks, and laid down some pretty ridiculous hits during the course of the season, there have also been an equal amount of times that they have been beaten to the puck, or have stood in place and watched the puck glide right past them.
The Montreal offense has shown no signs of backing down. If this is going to be the case in the remaining games in the series, the Bolts are going to have to start to take the pressure to the Canadiens. This means offensively as well.
As I said, there were plenty of opportunities in the series where they could have taken the shot; however, have chosen to make a pass, only to have it intercepted by the Canadiens.
The way that the Lightning has been playing these last two games is not indicative of the way that this team has played all season long. They almost seem like the polar opposite of the team that just won four games in a row to clinch Home Ice Advantage in the first round.
We all know that this team has what it takes to win. All they need now is for someone to lead the way. Lightning captain Steven Stamkos may be new to the captaincy; however, he has the necessary skills to get the job done. He has shown throughout his time as team captain that he takes his new role seriously and that he is dedicated to getting the job done. At this point, he needs to put his foot down, hold the players responsible for their own play, and lead the team by example.
While the Lightning may be looked down upon by some of our opponents, the one thing that they don’t seem to see is our team’s desire to win, and the dedication of the Bolts Nation has to being there for their team. We may be down right now, but the one thing we most certainly are not is out.
There is plenty of hockey left to play. All the Lightning need to do is get focused, and hit the ice ready to play just like we all know they can.
What do you think is going to be key to the Lightning’s success in Montreal tonight? Who do you think is going to step up to the plate and lead the team to victory? Let us know what you think in the comments below.
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