Category Archives: Lightning

Lightning one win from Stanley Cup final

After a dismal showing in games one and two, at home no less, the Tampa Bay Lightning went on the road and found their game that had gone missing as they beat the Capitals in game three, stole game four, and then played a fantastic first period at home in game five to take a 3-2 series lead with a chance to wrap it up in Washington on Monday night,
 
An interesting stat I ran across this afternoon. The Capitals are 13-43 all-time in games after taking a 2-0 series lead. That is incredible.
 
So how have the Lightning gotten themselves back in the series after trailing 2-0 and being thoroughly outplayed the first two games?
 
It starts with a sense of urgency, desperation if you will, and the Lightning have played with that urgency the last three games. That first period Saturday night in game 5, was the best first period the Lightning have played this season. Cedric Paquette scoring 19 seconds into the first period and then a Ryan Callahan goal a few minutes later set the tone for the rest of the night.
 
There was not a lot of room on the ice for the Capitals to use their speed to create odd man chances as the Lightning defense was stellar, and the Bolts outshot the Capitals 13-4 to set the tone for the rest of the game.
 
Washington was on their heels and playing catch-up the rest of the game and could never overcome that quick start by the Lightning.
 
The Lightning plyed tight defense on the Ovechkin line. The grind line of Paquette, Callahan, and Kunitz shut down the top line of the Capitals, until late in the game when the Caps pulled Holtby and played 6 on 5 and Ovechkin put a rocket passed Vasilevskiy to make it 3-2. The defense has gotten better the last three games and that mindset has been key to shutting down and frustrating the Capitals.
 
The Lightning had to kill off the final 90 seconds of the 6-5 getting some help from Vasilevskiy with two outstanding saves.
 
The Lightning were also able to stay out of the penalty box and not let the Caps PP get going. In the two games in Washington the Caps PP was 0-7 thanks to some great saves by VasilevskIy. The Lightning PP has also gotten cranked up as the series has gone along and is now 6/15 in the series.
 
As the series shifts back to Washington for game 6, this will be the toughest game the Lightning has played all year. Washington will come out flying and the lightning will need to wether the storm. Vasilevskiy will again have to be very good in this game if the Lightning are going to advance. Vasilevskiy has been red hot stopping 100 of the last 106 shots he has faced.
 
The Capitals will get their chances, but if the lightning plays the way they have the last three games against the Caps, the Lightning will be Eastern Conference champions and looking forward to a date with Vegas in the Stanley Cup Finals.
 
 
 
 

Lightning back in playoff form with win against the Bruins

It was what Lightning fans had been waiting to see for a few weeks now, smothering defense, Vasilevskiy back in Vezina form, and contibutions offensively from all lines.

This was the best game the Lightning have played in I can’t remember when. The lightning have had good periods, maybe a good 10 minute stretch here and there when they dominated, for a short period of time, but this was as a complete game the Lightning have played all season.

And the fact that it came against the Bruins, a team that had the Lightning’s number all year was even better.

Last night’s game will set the tone for a potential second round playoff matchup with the Bruins, which if it comes about would be one of the best series of the playoffs.

This game also sends a message that the Lightning will be a team to be reckoned with in the playoffs. The game last night proved that the Lightning can defensively smother a team and shut them down. Vasilevskiy had one of his best games of the season with his 8th shutout of the season and his 43rd win in the 4-0 whitewash of the Bruins.

Boston, along with Nashville have been the hottest teams in the NHL the second half of the season. While the Lightning stumbled a bit after the break, the Bruins got on a roll and have climbed to the top of the standings in the Eastern Conference.

Lightning captain Steven Stamkos missed the game with what is what is being called a lower body injury. Jon Copper said he may play this weekend depending on how he feels, but I wouldn’t count on it.

There are a few variables at play this weekend as the No. 1 seed in the East is on the line. Right now the Bruins and the Lightning are tied with 110 points. Boston has 3 games remaining, two against the Panthers. The Lightning have two games left. They will play the Sabres on Friday night in the home finale, and the Hurricanes on Saturday.

Should Stamkos play or not? I would rather he rest this weekend then play and risk some kind of silly injury and miss some tIme in the playoffs. The Lightning are probably going to get second place in the division and a first round matchup against Toronto at this point.

Louis Domingue should get the start on Friday night. I would rest Vasilevskiy and then have everyone who is healthy play on Saturday against the Hurricanes in a tuneup for the playoffs.

-The Lightning will probably host game one of their series on Thursday night as Amalie Arena will be hosting a concert on Wednesday Night.

-Adam Erne is still hobbling and will be a bit longer before he gets back to playing. Cooper ‘s comments yesterday were that Erne was more than just day to day. Barring an injury these last two games, the Lightning should enter the playoffs relatively health

Lightning stumbling toward playoffs

If you watched the Lightning in their 4-1 loss to the Arizona Coyotes on Monday night, was there anything you saw in that game that gave you the confidence and assurance that this team is going to be ok for the playoffs and be ready to take care of business?

I thought it was just me. That my assessment was off. That the Lightning is just playing out the string. That they will be able to flick a switch and everything will be fine once the playoffs start on April 11th.

I think that is the mind set of some of the guys in the locker room. I just give it the eye ball test as they say. What I see being played out on the ice the last four games is not going to win you a series in the playoffs.

I know Steven Stamkos was out as a maintenance day as it was called, but as a team you have to put up a better effort than that against the second worst team in the league.

I’m sorry, but I vehemently disagree with Cooper when he says the puck just didn’t bounce their way. if that’s the case the puck hasn’t bounced their way the last four games.

Again we saw the Lightning abandon all systems and just run around trying to make something happen. There was no structure to their game. That has nothing to do with the puck not bouncing their way Coach.

I’ve written about it before. the poor passing, defensemen out of position, the turnovers. The Lightning get one shot and that is it, no one is in the right position for another shot attempt.

The other disturbing thing about this Lightning team is their lack of being physical. There is more contact in an NBA game than there is initiated by the Lightning. The softness of the team bothers me.

Victor Hedman got drilled late in the game, falls to the ice, and not one Lightning player comes to his defense. Not one. Everyone just accepts the fact that one of their teammates just got hit and is down on the ice and its no big deal.

The mindset of this team starts with Cooper. Not a lot of fire. Good coach, but very composed and this team is a reflection of that on the ice.

The Bruins are right on the heels of the Lightning just one point behind in the division, with two games remaining against the Lightning. The first of those two meetings will be Thursday night in Boston. The Lightning are still looking for that first win this season against the Bruins.

It’s not out of the realm of possibility that the Lightning could fall to third in the division behind Toronto. It‘s not likely, but stranger things have happened.

This is the time of year when everything should be clicking on all cylinders and being fine-tuned for a deep playoff run.

After the Bruins, the Lightning will be in New York to play the Rangers before coming home to play Nashville on Easter Sunday, which could be a Stanley Cup Preview.

The Lightning needs to get back to playing the type of game which made them so successful the first half season. If that Lightning team shows up in the Playoffs, we will be playing hockey in June.

If not, the Lightning will get some extra time to work on their golf game.