Tampa Bay Lightning And Hockey Attitude


February 2, 2013; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Lightning forward Victor Hedman (77) waits for a faceoff during the game against the New York Rangers at Tampa Bay Times Forum. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Griffith-USA TODAY Sports

Last night’s game versus the Montreal Canadiens was both the most boring and the most exciting game of the season so far. The Tampa Bay Lightning started off the season with promise and a fire. While there will always be promise, the fire seems to have extinguished. It wasn’t just on the road trip. They didn’t appear to give it their 100% in the last game of the long home stand. It wasn’t pretty. That seemed to have been the start of the downward spiral. While on the road the team was on the ice in Tampa Bay Lightning uniforms, but they did not look like the men who played at home with the passion. It was as if the hunger had been drained, the drive gone. Perhaps someone cloned exact replicas of our guys and are holding the real ones hostage. I know that you can’t win them all, but a lack of effort was clear. This is from an untrained standpoint, of course. What do I know?

I’m not one of the Negative Nellies who do sideline coaching and tell the coaches how to do their job, and what to fix. The team has well paid coaches who are trained to dissect what they are doing wrong and what they are doing right. I am not one of those fans who cheer and talk the team up when they are winning and get bipolar and emo and complain when they lose. I express some frustration, yes, but I always support my team. As a matter of act, I have been accused of wearing rose colored glasses because I am positive and want to uplift them when they are down. I’ve been accused of ‘rewarding them for doing wrong’ when I’d organize the spirit rallies to cheer them on prior to games last season for those who were able to make it. (Most people had to work or children getting out of school, etc…. life issues.) No, I thought that they needed to see the fans supporting them. The only thing keeping me from doing so this time is my oldest son, as he has football games mostly on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays after school. (Which they won 38-0 yesterday, I have to give him a shout out. Go BA Scorpions!!) We’re lucky to be in our seats and settled by puck drop these days. Life has it’s priorities. But for those of you who can support them as they drive in, please do so. Let them see that we, as fans, care about them for more than just autographs.

I don’t wear rose colored glasses. I’m just a positive person. However I am human and I do have frustrations to express. I’m in no way trying to cut the organization down. The Bolts have always had a second period slump curse, but it’s hard to determine if that is still an issue when the first period and most of the third seem to be in the same boat. There is SIXTY minutes of hockey to be played, however, they don’t seem to snap into gear until the last three. Not even a full period of good hockey is being played lately. It’s right at the end of the game. By then a good number of fans have given up and either turned off their TVs or left the arena early. That’s another complaint for another day. I know that a lot of people, especially on week days, cut out early with good reason. They have to work or have children who have to go to school the next morning, or they want to avoid the hellish traffic. Some just don’t like to be out that late at night. I get that. This is geared towards those who would stay if the team was winning the game, but because they are losing, they leave early and give up. Well, last night the joke was on those people! It was an exciting ending.

I don’t know where the team’s enthusiasm was throughout the first two periods. They played horrible. (Fan analysis.) Anders Lindback strays too far from the net. He needs a shock collar, much like goalies from the past. He let in some soft goals. I think that he’s a great goal tender with wonderful potential. He is capable of being so much more when he develops. With that said, a goal tender should not have to entirely hold up the team in guarding the net. Anders made some amazing saves, but where was the defense? I have issue with Eric Brewer, that’s no secret. He is like an immobile tree on the ice half the time. This season he’s been playing like the Brewer I love to see. Victor Hedman was too busy playing offense in third period. I have no idea what he was doing the other two-thirds of the game.

Speaking of fighting, of course the hot-headed B.J. Crombeen lost his cool and got in a fight. The first two quarters was so boring that the fight didn’t even spark my interest. B.J. fights have lost my interest in general anyway. If he’s playing in a game, you know he’ll be in a fight. It’s absolutely ridiculous. I’m always up for a good hockey fight! But not the same short fused player every single game. It gets old. And he doesn’t even win most of his fights.

The third period started off much the same. I actually dozed off on my son Josh’s shoulder during the second intermission. Once Hedman scored, things picked up. It activated the drones on the bench, because they had enthusiasm and a good third period. Too little too late, not in this case! Hedman scored 2 of the 3 goals that tied up the game. They were 3-0 heading into the third. In the last few minutes they managed to score three goals, forcing an over time. Teamwork. A tired group of fans stayed with them to support them until the nail biting bitter end. During over time the offense couldn’t quite pull it off, though not from a lack of effort. The defense was great. Overtime ended scoreless. It went in to a shoot out. Shoot outs are always entertaining to watch, however, not on a weeknight! They are exciting as exhibitions or during the All-Star Game. Even in the rarely appointed penalty shot.

Shoot outs should not determine the outcome of an entire game. It’s a skill competition, not a team effort. The team fights through a hard fought game and frustrating overtime, only to have the fate of the win fall on an individual player. It’s not right! Coach Boucher picked Victor Hedman (understandably, as he was coming off of a hot streak in the third period), Martin St. Louis for whatever reason (I love the clearly talented guy, but he’s no shoot out saint), and Steven Stamkos (who is not playing like the golden boy yet this season. God forbid he plays like a normal player!). Needless to say Montreal won the shoot out 1-0, for a total of 3-4.

It wasn’t a win, but it was a loss in a shootout, and by only 1 point. That’s not too shabby! Hopefully this, along with fan support, will lift their spirits and help them gain some confidence heading into Thursday’s game versus the Washington Capitals. I’d like to see 60 minutes of hockey. Not 3. They can do it! LET’S GO BOLTS!

Dolly Dolce