Off the Dot: Great team effort, unlucky puck bounce


Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Let me start off by saying that this post isn’t a stat-by-stat analysis of last night’s home game against the Winnipeg Jets.  This is a knee-jerk reaction post to that whiplash overtime winner the Jets scored too quickly for Lightning fans (me) to comprehend.

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 talking about emotions.  We’re just talking about our thoughts on strategy or whatever random thought about the Tampa Bay Lightning happens to come to mind.  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 hey, maybe that’ll even be me, and after some games, it is me.  But not now (as I’m at the other job and I have only this limited window to write anything at all), and I really needed to express this whiplash effect of Mark Scheifele‘s overtime winner.

And that’s just hockey though isn’t it?  A series of whiplash, near car accident-like events.  And you never know in what direction the wreck may or may not go in your team’s favor.

Alex Killorn nearly won the game for the Tampa Bay Lightning just a mere 20-or so- seconds before Scheifele’s goal.  A beautiful, and confident wrister from a player who has come up big for the Bolts on several occasions in overtime this season.

The shot was well placed, and maybe 8-times out of 10, that shot, a shot that strikes the inside post, will bounce to the opposite post, past the line for a goal.  But not this time, this time the puck, with gross amounts of unlucky bounce, ricocheted straight across the crease, parallel to the line and out and away from the goal face.

No goal.  But I still got real happy after seeing how close the Bolts came to winning the game.  A smile broke out on my face and I yelled loudly into a room full of no one, “Yeah!  That’s who you want shooting the puck in overtime!”

Killorn has been the man with the plan in overtime this year, and you got to like that kind of production even if it didn’t go in.  Further more, maybe 7-times out of 10, when a shot almost goes in like that, it means that there is a great chance, with the Lightning harnessing that kind of momentum, that the next shot they take, well, it’s probably going in.

The Lightning didn’t have a next time.  Scheifele made sure of that.

I still had a big, toothy grin plastered all over my unsuspecting face when the Jets won the game at 1:04 in overtime.  It took several seconds for reality to dawn on me, and that smile, that beamed with bright possibilities only a few seconds before with Killorn’s near-miss, to stretch downwards into a cold, reluctant frown.

It was that fast.  But hey, that’s hockey.  And that’s one of the reasons it’s so fun to watch.  One second you’re about to take two points to the locker room with you, and the next second the game is over and you’re taking one point.

It’s amazing – hockey.  And sometimes, it ruins perfectly good smiles, and confuses your face, when you’re not ready for it.

But anyway, last night was a great team effort (if at least for the last half of the game) and Anders Lindback looked very impressive in net.  I think Lindback has started to quietly improve into a solid back-up to Ben Bishop, and I think that’s reason enough, despite the loss, to rejoice.

Lightning defense, as a whole, hasn’t been the issue with the Bolts over the past couple games (exluding Mark Barberio on this one, sorry, but that one smarted, Mark).

Tampa Bay is simply not scoring enough goals.

But even still, last night (and against the Ottawa Senators on Dec. 5) looked better in that department, I think, if only by a bit, and that’s improvement.

Hopefully the Lightning’s offense catches up with the Lightning’s defense and netminding, as they continue to keep games low-scoring, because that’s the only issue the Bolts are having now (besides massive amounts of injuries) in winning games as consistently as the first month and a half.

It boils down to no goals when they need them, or, sometimes, no goals at all, as teams stretch out insurmountable leads early and hold on to them.

Oh, and very unlucky bounces.  But hey, that’s just my opinion, and we’re off the dot.