Dotchin, Jake

NHL Game Night: 1-11-18 Flames at Lightning

Costly loss casts a pall on the Lightning.

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Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 5 goals on 24 shots for the loss in an uncharacteristic clunker for the young netminder.

First Period
0:29 CGY Ferland (19), (Monahan, Gaudreau)

Second Period
0:31 TB Point (17), (Johnson, Palat)
16:48 CGY Gaudreau (14), (Ferland, Hamilton)
18:43 CGY Bennett (8), (Brodie, Jankowski)(PP)

Third Period
2:19 CGY Jankowski (8), (Hathaway)
8:34 CGY Tkachuk (11), (Brouwer)

It was a game where I think the Lightning probably played better than the score indicates. Mike Smith really held Calgary into this game until the Flames got the two goals at the end of the Second Period against the run of play and things just snowballed against the Lightning from there. Ordinarily you'd just kind of shrug that one off considering it was against a Western Conference opponent and games like this happen.

But, at this hour, things are a little scary for the Lightning. After toughing out a leg injury in the Lightning's last game where Dotchin fell on his leg, Victor Hedman twisted his knee in the Second Period of this one and couldn't put weight on it as he left the action never to be seen again. The Lightning have a week off until their next game and the All-Star Break looming thereafter. The Lightning will almost certainly be hoping whatever Hedman has is minor and can be dealt with through the power of some rest and relaxation, because you simply don't replace a number one defenseman. You don't.

Jake Dotchin was -1 with 3 shots, 3 hits, and 4 blocked shots in 22:55. Had a turnover on Calgary's first goal and struggled at times against pace in 5v5 play.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 1-9-18 Hurricanes at Lightning

Johnson and Lightning hold off 'Canes and shady refs.

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Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 4 goals on 32 shots for the victory. Goal support. Mmmmmm mmmmm!

First Period
3:23 CAR McGinn (7), (Williams, Slavin)(PP)
10:02 TB Hedman (6), (Kucherov, Stamkos)
12:10 CAR Aho (14), (unassisted)
16:26 TB Johnson (14), (Stralman, Point)

Second Period
1:58 TB Johnson (15), (Dotchin, Point)
10:36 CAR Faulk (4), (Teravainen, Staal)(PP)

Third Period
9:27 TB Dotchin (3), (Point)
14:54 TB Johnson (16), (Hedman)
18:42 CAR Lindholm (12), (Faulk, Teravainen)

Tyler Johnson, Brayden Point, and Jake Dotchin were the game's three stars.

Not a great performance by the Lightning on their first game back from a long road trip, which is lamentable but fairly typical. Still, the team grinded it out and systematically manufactured the goals they needed, overcoming a video review that went against them and the second straight game where the referees did not award the Lightning a power play. Seriously, for a team as good as the Lightning is possession-wise to not draw a penalty in two straight games is extremely suspect. As in, it's a practical impossibility. Jon Cooper should go ahead and take the fine and say something (yes, spending money is easy when it's someone else's).

The rebirth of Tyler Johnson is complete since his move to wing on Point's line. He had an amazing December and the hat trick tonight puts the punctuation at the end of the sentence. Tyler Johnson is back.

Dotchin had a goal and an assist and was +4 with 1 shot, 3 hits, and 2 blocked shots in 19:43. So good to see him rebound strongly after sitting down after the turnover debacle in Ottawa.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 1-6-18 Lightning at Senators

Sloppy Lightning embarrass themselves in Ottawa.

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Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 6 goals on 33 shots for the loss. I was surprised Cooper didn't pull him to try to spark the team after a disgraceful First Period where they played so poorly in front of him. They finally ran into a night where Andrei didn't bail them out from their biggest mistakes.

First Period
4:48 OTT Dzingel (12), (Stone)
5:51 OTT Duchene (10), (Ryan)
17:04 OTT Smith (4), (Karlsson, Oduya)

Second Period
0:26 TB Hedman (5), (unassisted)
1:41 TB Koekkoek (4), (Kucherov, Killorn)
15:57 TB Gourde (12), (Sergachev, Johnson)(PP)

Third Period
10:44 OTT Stone (17), (Brassard, Chabot)
14:57 OTT Pageau (6), (Karlsson)
17:08 OTT Dzingel (13), (Karlsson, Stone)

When you gift a team, no matter how low they are in the standings, goals off of stupid mistakes, you can get embarrassed like this. The self-inflicted wounds tonight were numerous, including horrible turnovers that led to Ottawa's first goal and game winning goal and a clean faceoff loss that yielded Ottawa's back breaking insurance goal. There's your margin of victory right there. All things the Lightning could've controlled.

Slater Koekkoek had a goal, 4 shots, 3 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 15:19. Made a dynamite shot joining the play late to score the second goal for the Lightning. All-in-all did nothing to hurt the case for more games.

Yanni Gourde had a goal and was -1 with 2 shots in 16:31. He was only 14% on 7 draws, though. I don't think the Lightning are using Gourde to his highest and best by playing him at center, and if the Lightning could acquire a third line center and move Gourde back to wing, I think they'd get some nice results out of it. Tonight was Gourde's 41st game of the season, so he graduates from prospect status on the website.

Jake Dotchin was -1 with 2 penalty minutes and 2 blocked shots in 20:51. Pretty awful start to the game with the turnover that immediately spotted Ottawa a goal. I'm thinking he might want to burn the tape of this one.

Mikhail Sergachev had a helper on the goal that tied the game, but was an ugly -4 with 2 penalty minutes to go with 3 shots and 3 hits in 15:59. He also graduated from prospect status on the website in tonight's game.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

Opinion: Lightning at the Halfway Mark

Forty games into a historic 2017-2018 season, let's take a moment to pause, step out of the moment, and take stock of where the club is. Sitting halfway through the campaign expectations for the team, which missed the postseason just a year ago, are sky high for good reason. Not only is the Lightning atop the NHL standings a full 13 points ahead of the pace they need to be in order to make the postseason, but the team leads a bevy of organizational and individual statistical categories.

Let's pump the breaks on prematurely planning a Stanley Cup championship parade, though. There's still half of the regular season and the postseason left to play, and as good as the team is, it's not without blemishes. How General Manager Steve Yzerman addresses those blemishes (or doesn't) and how any potential changes alters team chemistry (or doesn't) will have a lot to say about whether the team lives up to its perceived potential. So, with all of that in mind, let's look at how the team got here, what its weaknesses are, and what might happen next.

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