Lightning hit a fork in the road.
Ben Bishop allowed 5 goals on 31 shots for the loss. Unlike Phoenix, there's not a lot I would fault Bishop for. Lots of deflection goals and one breakaway goal. Oh, and Killorn deciding to go Clint Dempsey into his own cage.
14:58 LA Kopitar (6), (Doughty, Williams)
16:49 LA Frattin (2), (Voynov, Stoll)(PP)
2:38 LA Williams (8), (Doughty, Kopitar)
15:08 LA King (7), (Vey)(SH)
16:17 TB Filppula (9), (Hedman, St. Louis)(PP)
17:15 LA Brown (4), (Frattin)
1:22 TB Hedman (4), (Johnson)
That was a pretty disgraceful effort to put out on the ice for your captain's 1,000th NHL game. And, no, I'm not talking about the Kings' first 3 goals, 1 of which was a perfect shot, 1 of which was a perfect (lucky) deflection, and 1 of which Killorn kicked into his own net. Those things happen. What had to leave Marty lingering on the bench muttering to himself after the game was how poorly the team responded after that adversity. 9 shots on goal through 40 minutes was piss poor, especially considering how shaky Scrivens looked at times. When you compound that by not putting forth the effort on the first half of a 4 minute power play, leading to a SH goal against, and a horrendous Connolly turnover leading to the Kings' 5th goal, that's how you allow a few bad breaks to snowball into a catastrophe. And I suspect I know what Marty is thinking: if you hustle and if you don't make soft, unforced errors at your blue line, you get out of that period down 3-1, possibly. Then Hedman's semi-soft goal on Scrivens early in the Third Period would've meant something and the Lightning's push in the final frame would've been to steal a point against a quality opponent rather than to try to avoid the inevitable wrath of a Head Coach that hates to lose even more than he likes to win. Now the Lightning have dropped their first consecutive games of the season with another tough game coming up, and they're at a fork in the road. The question is, are they going to cave in here or are they going to put the effort in to stay competitive? That's what I want to see right now. The result is obviously the big thing, but let's start with the building blocks of making sure that the team doesn't look comatose for 40 minutes of a game.
Radko Gudas had 4 hits and 1 blocked shot in 21:18.
Tyler Johnson had a helper and 3 shots in 17:56. He was also 39% on draws. He was a big part of the push the Lightning put on in the Third Period and he nearly snuck one past Scrivens in the First Period.
Alex Killorn was -3 with 2 penalty minutes, 1 shot, and 2 hits in 12:01. He and Brett Connolly were a waste receptacle conflagration tonight. I see stupid offensive zone penalties. I see sloppiness with the puck. I see very little being generated on the forecheck. I see why his ice time took a nose dive. That line needs to be broken up and Connolly may need to sit a game in the stands to think about what occurred tonight. And, Killorn may need a turn on a checking line to get reoriented on playing a simple game.
Ondrej Palat was +1 with 1 shot, 2 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 15:39. Another decent night on the PK and he was helpful with his fellow kid liners in the Third Period garbage time push.
J.T. Brown was -2 with 2 blocked shots in 13:04. His line did precious little at even strength, which isn't a direct reflection on his play, but you'd like him to really be the first man in on that line with Filppula and Purcell. I understand all the early penalties really hampered the ability of that unit to get into the flow, though.
Dmitry Korobov had 1 hit in 13:04 in his NHL debut. It was a mixed bag for Dmitry. I thought he had a pretty solid little First Period at both ends. He looked pretty good under duress in his own end moving the puck out of trouble and he threw a puck toward the net (uncredited by the scorers) that led to one of the few opportunities for the Lightning in the opening frame. He got less ice time in the Second Period because of all the special teams play and a little extended Third Period garbage time against a little more quality opponents. And, that was about what I would expect from Dmitry. He put a big pop on Dustin Brown along the boards and had a nice long pass to spring an offensive chance on the positive side of the coin. On the negative side, he made an odd unforced error (Korobov does it 1-2 times a game in my experience, a la a young Kubina) to move the puck to an open point in his own end where a Kings defenseman was waiting to pounce and there was one wide rush where his slow footwork was slightly exposed. I'd say it wasn't a big net positive or negative game for Dmitry's stock. But, that said, I felt he showed he's certainly better under duress in his own end than Barberio and that he has more two-way game than Aulie ever dreamed of having. So, there's something to work with there, warts and all.
Richard Panik was +1 with 3 shots and 1 hit in 14:53. Would've been nice for the kid line to get one during that Third Period push for their confidence.
Pierre-Cedric Labrie was -1 with 4 penalty minutes and 1 hit in 8:44. I have no idea why he exists right now. He had one or two good forechecking shifts, but that doesn't offset his skating liabilities defensively, and you'll have a hard time explaining to me why Malone is running around trying to start fights when a game is out of hand like that but Labrie isn't. His whole role is supposed to be to spark the team on a night when they're flat like they were tonight, and he just didn't do anything. Again. He seems like a genuinely nice person and he's a great story. But, if the Lightning are down 4 goals and flat as a pancake, he needs to be challenging the other team's entire bench to a fight. Period. Or, he's no use to anybody. And, if that's the way it's going to be, I'd just as soon see his spot filled by someone like Philippe Paradis who might actually do something to light a fire under the butts of his teammates. I'm not saying it to be mean. The trigger has no heart, and Labrie needs some tough love right now because it feels like he's got a bit of role/identity crisis right now.
Unlucky start to the road trip.
Ben Bishop allowed 3 goals on 14 shots before leaving the game after taking a shot off the collarbone. Anders Lindback allowed 2 on 15 shots the rest of the way, taking the old backdoor loss. Clearly this was Bishop's worst start of the season. Phoenix's first goal was a little soft on a long point shot that Bishop looked like he got a good look at, and the second goal was obviously a terrible one banked off his skate from the corner. Hard to fault him on Phoenix's third goal when he was stunned by the slapper off his collarbone. The silver linings are that Lindback looked above average in his relief stint and Bishop came back out to sit on the bench after going to the locker room, which hopefully means nothing is broken.
15:58 PHX Stone (6), (Ribeiro, Rundblad)(PP)
16:55 PHX Hanzal (6), (Korpikoski)
1:48 Ribeiro (6), (Hanzal, Vrbata)(PP)
16:19 TB Panik (1), (Johnson, Killorn)
17:05 PHX Murphy (1), (Vrbata, Korpikoski)
17:55 TB Brown (1), (Purcell, Sustr)
1:37 PHX Doan (10), (Hanzal, Vrbata)
18:58 TB Killorn (6), (St. Louis, Sustr)
19:41 PHX Korpikoski (4), (Hanzal)(EN)
Reasons for concern? Yes. Silver linings? A few. The team was a little flat, which maybe is to be expected when you make the long flight out west. And, this game was a clunker for Bishop with injury piled onto insult. I expect them to respond the next time out and not take so long to get their legs under them, and they do deserve credit for the way they kept pushing in the Third Period despite being 3 down on the scoreboard. I'm also not terribly concerned about Bishop's play (more worried about his health). He wasn't going to go the entire year without giving up a soft goal. The key is to just make sure he compartmentalizes that bad effort to a single game, 1 of 82, and moves on.
Radko Gudas was -3 with 4 shots and 4 hits in 20:17. He was uncharacteristically weak on the puck behind his net leading to Phoenix's 5th goal, which was the kill shot on the scoreboard. He really worked hard the rest of the Third Period to atone, though, and I appreciated the effort to make up for his mistake.
The Lightning finish their second 10 game segment of the season with the same result as the first, 14 points. That's 2 more than the minimum you hope for, which is great, and helps build up some extra insurance points. But, those two segments are over. Time to start chasing the next 12+ points. Two is a fluke, three is a streak.
Tyler Johnson had a helper and was +1 with 1 hit and 1 blocked shot in 16:38. He was also 39% on draws. He worked himself into a breakaway in the First Period that he failed to convert, eventually spilling into the net. His speed seems to buy him a breakaway every game or two. You'd love to see him start converting.
Alex Killorn had 1 goal and 1 assist and 2 penalty minutes in 16:25. He ended up with 3 shots and 1 hit. He took a bad penalty at the end of the First Period that eventually contributed to a key 5-on-3 goal for Phoenix. That said, from that point on, he was one of Tampa Bay's best forwards as reflected by the scoresheet.
Ondrej Palat had 1 shot and 1 hit in 14:05. Honestly, I'd like to see the guy get more touches with some space in the neutral zone because that's where he does his best work directing the attack. When he doesn't get those touches, he's less of a contributor.
J.T. Brown had his first NHL goal and was -1 with 2 shots, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 16:07. He looks good out there with his speed and his goal was a quick release laser beam.
Andrej Sustr had a pair of assists and was +1 with 2 penalty minutes, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 17:07. I don't know that his game was as good as his stat line indicates. I thought Sustr, like the Lightning in general, had more trouble than usual getting out of his own end. A few unforced errors were present.
Richard Panik scored his first goal of the season and had 2 shots, 2 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 13:48. His shot was another x-ray death beam and you just hope, as snake bitten as Richard has been, this opens the flood gates for him from a goal scoring perspective.
Lightning dominate the Western Conference's leading team.
Ben Bishop allowed 1 goal on 25 shots for the victory.
11:52 TB Filppula (7), (Purcell, Carle)
16:25 TB St. Louis, (Brown, Filppula)(PP)
03:16 TB Filppula (8), (Hedman, St. Louis)(PP)
10:51 TB Killorn (5), (St. Louis, Barberio)
16:07 ANH Etem (5), (Fowler, Beauchemin)
2:05 TB Hedman (3), (Panik, Johnson)
Anaheim actually outshot Tampa Bay 25-20 in the game, but the scoreboard, in this case, was a far better indicator of the balance of play. The Lightning had a lot of zone time and puck possession. That didn't necessarily lead to a ton of shots and chances, but they buried the ones that they got, which allowed them to cruise after scoring their 5th goal early in the Third Period. True, some of the luster was off this game with Stamkos and Getzlaf hurt and Perry limited due to illness, but to crush the Western Conference's top team in the standings by a 5-1 margin was still impressive. The Lightning improve to 2-0-0 post-Stamkos injury, and match the 14 points they put up in the first 10-game set of the season with 1 more to go in the second set.
Radko Gudas was +1 with 4 penalty minutes, 5 hits, and 2 blocked shots in 19:34. I'd love someone to ask Selanne how many times in his career he's been hit as hard as on the hit where Gudas trucked him tonight. My guess is not often.
Mark Barberio had a helper and 1 blocked shot in 16:12. With the balance of the game in Anaheim's end of the rink, you'd be correct in guessing Barberio's game went well. That side of the game is obviously Barberio's forte.
Tyler Johnson had a helper and was +1 with 2 penalty minutes, 1 shot, and he was 59% on draws.
Alex Killorn got a goal and was +1 with 2 shots in 15:43. North-south. He made a nifty little play on a toe drag to get a shot on goal and then chipped in his own rebound on his goal. A little bit of skill, but ultimately it's a simple north-south play where he got the result.
Ondrej Palat was +1 with 2 penalty minutes in 15:33. Took a charging call that was far too ticky tack as the referees were calling everything to try to stop a riot from starting in a game where Anaheim was getting embarrassed.
J.T. Brown had a helper and was +1 with 4 shots, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 14:25. He's fit into the lineup pretty seamlessly, and he went to the net on the PP goal where he got his helper.
Andrej Sustr was +1 with 2 shots and 1 blocked shot in 18:53.
Richard Panik had a helper and was +1 with 2 penalty minutes and 1 shot in 12:05. He took his call on a mean spirited hit on Ben Lovejoy where he just about sawed the Ducks defender in half. There were times this was a very chippy game where the Ducks were taking runs at the Lightning and the Lightning responded by taking runs back. The difference is that when the Ducks did it, they didn't do damage. The Lightning were hitting to hurt and achieving their objectives.
Lightning 1-0-0 in the post-Stamkos injury era.
Ben Bishop allowed 1 goal on 29 shots and stopped all 3 shooters he faced in the penalty shot session for the victory.
5:00 TB Malone (3), (Brewer, Crombeen)
15:22 MTL Briere (2), (Pacioretty)
Bishop and Valtteri Filppula were the game's second and third stars.
You cannot help but feel pride in how the Lightning responded to adversity tonight, putting in a gem of a performance despite the rash of injuries that occurred in Boston. For the men who took the ice tonight, it was an opportunity to make a statement to the league that, Steven Stamkos or no Steven Stamkos, the Lightning aren't going to lay down this season and they're certainly not going quietly. They dominated the Habs in zone time and outshot them 45-29. Only Carey Price and a questionable call by a referee waiving off a Radko Gudas goal kept this game from being a 4-1 or so squash.
Let's backtrack to that goal call, shall we? The on-ice officials clearly blew a call where Gudas' slap shot entered the net and left quickly off the goal camera. Dead center. In the middle of the net. I suspect the referees were embarrassed. What I didn't expect was to see petulant officials tell the Toronto replay officials that none of that mattered because even if the puck was in, they were calling "incidental contact" on Tyler Johnson anyway. That would be Tyler Johnson with two feet outside the crease, being pushed slightly by a Habs defender, barely making contact with Price at all. Congratulations refs, you made the top-3 goal review hosings in Lightning history tonight, and that's not an easy list to make. It goes right beside Zdeno Chara of Boston (6'9") deflecting a goal in at his eye level and not having the goal disallowed and Brendan Shanahan of the New York Rangers saving a goal by placing his hand over it over the goal line (which at a minimum should have been a penalty shot). Honorable mention to Mike Smith's "stick throwing" on an acrobatic shootout save against Dallas. All of this miscarriage of justice came after the refs kept Montreal with several ticky tack first period penalty calls against the Lightning and several not so ticky tack non-calls of clear Habs infractions in the Second Period. It's hard enough to compete in the NHL when you have one of the youngest teams in the league and your superstar goal scorer just went out for 3 months with a broken leg. It's even worse when referees choose the stick their thumbs on the scales to make it even harder on visiting teams in places like Montreal and Toronto. If there is any justice, the league will mete out disciplinary action on the officials in tonight's game. As it is, the Lightning will probably have to settle for the fact they still managed to get 2 points out of the contest despite the deck being so stacked against them, which is a testament to the character of this team. Kudos also to Jon Cooper for projecting supreme calm in front of his young team as that farce was unfolding. If that had been John Tortorella behind the bench instead, I suspect someone would be getting together bail money for what would have happened.
With the victory, the Lightning got their 12th point in this second 10-game segment of the season. That meets the minimum quota you want with 2 more games to rack up some additional insurance points. Given the lifting just got heavier due to the injuries, by all means the Lightning should horde as many points as they can now while the hording is good.
Gudas was -1 with 1 shot, 3 hits, and 2 blocked shots in 21:32. Of course, in the parallel universe where Gudas is clean shaven and the refs called a fair game, Gudas had a goal and 2 blocked shots, and John Tortorella is a vegan pacifist.
Mark Barberio was +1 with 2 penalty minutes and 2 shots in 17:39. I'll learn to live with some of his softness along the wall if he can just avoid the big mistakes like he made in Detroit. He accomplished that tonight.
Johnson had 2 penalty minutes, 3 shots, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 20:46. His mere aura made Carey Price tremble on the Gudas no-goal, at least according to the refs. That's impressive for a rookie.
Alex Killorn was -1 with 2 shots and 2 hits in 20:21 playing on a reformed line with Marty St. Louis centered by Brett Connolly. The line had moments. We'll look for further signs that they're continuing to gel.
Ondrej Palat had 2 penalty minutes, 3 shots, 1 hit, and 2 blocked shots in 15:55. He was absolutely robbed of a potential winning goal by Price, who robbed several Lightning skaters tonight.
J.T. Brown had 2 shots and 1 hit in 14:37. He looked solid and was also robbed on a point blank attempt by Price.
Andrej Sustr had 3 shots, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 16:01. He had one classic Sustr doe-legged moment in his own end, but balanced that by looking quite poised in the offensive zone.
Richard Panik had 3 shots, 5 hits, and 2 blocked shots in 15:38. He's close to a breakthrough, but I'm still not seeing him, consistently, have good first touches on the forecheck. The guy just, too often, seems to have a hole in his stick, which is weird because that's the opposite of his M.O. coming into this season.
Unfortunately, some real Stammergeddon in Boston.
Anders Lindback allowed 2 goals on 23 shots for the loss. He actually played quite well, which sadly will be overshadowed by everything else that happened today. With that said, though, goaltending just became that much more important for the Tampa Bay Lightning.
17:09 BOS Bergeron (6), (Eriksson, Krug)
17:29 BOS Paille (2), (Campbell, Bartkowski)
19:01 BOS Iginla (4), (Lucic, Krejci)(EN)
For those who missed it, Steven Stamkos ran into one of the goalposts behind Anders Lindback in the Second Period and broke his right tibia. He is out indefinitely and early scuttlebutt ranges from Stamkos being out until as early as February or as long as 9 months. In addition, Sami Salo and Keith Aulie also left the game with injuries. Shortly after Steven Stamkos was stretchered off the ice, Boston struck for 2 goals while the Lightning were still in a state of shock. Really, the game wasn't even secondary at that point, given everything that had transpired. It's a shame, because after a rough First Period the Lightning looked poised to possibly steal a point or two, but Boston remains a house of horrors for the club.
What happens next? How do you replace Steven Stamkos?
You don't. You don't replace one of the three best forwards in the league and the NHL's most consistent goal scorer. You can't. You invariably have to take an even more disciplined team approach to defense and you have to rely even more on your goaltending to try to help win games. Unfortunately, if Sami Salo is also down for any period of time, that's an even more difficult task to pull off.
How do you score enough goals to win?
There are four players, on the immediate roster, that will be counted on to step up. One, in particular, should be looked to the most. It's time for Teddy Purcell to become a star. Whether he moves to the top line or not, whether he stays at wing or moves to center, Teddy Purcell will be asked to become one of the offensive leaders of this team. Supporting his efforts, the Lightning need more goals from three youngsters who are capable of ~20 goals a piece, talent-wise: Richard Panik, Brett Connolly, and Tyler Johnson.
Who gets called up? How do lines shuffle?
There might be zero changes to the roster. There might be several. The Lightning have a high degree of flexibility, and also there are a lot of variables without knowing the degree to which Salo and Aulie are hurt. At forward, you could see the Lightning attempt to roll with what they have. Purcell and Alex Killorn have both played center in earlier lives and could conceivably slide back into that position. Expanded roles for Panik and Connolly could also be in the offing. If not, the two most obvious recalls would be Vladislav Namestnikov or Nikita Kucherov. Namestnikov, obviously, would be a 1-to-1 replacement at the center position. He's not a 1-to-1 replacement for Stamkos as a goal scorer though, as Namestnikov is more of a playmaker as a finisher. If a sniper is more desirable, Kucherov better fits the bill. Another, more improbable, option could be the emergency recall of Jonathan Drouin. Emergency recalls of junior players have been done in the past, such as when Calgary recalled Sven Baertschi a few seasons ago. The emergency recall rules are very narrowly defined in terms of when they can be used and very strict about when the recalled player must be returned to junior. An early read of the rules indicates it requires 2 players to already be up from the minors on emergency recall and that it requires the player to be returned to junior immediately once players get healthy again. With Pyatt already on IR, Stamkos about to go on IR, and Salo and/or Aulie possibly about to go on IR, there might be enough of a MASH unit developing to allow an emergency recall. However, the allowable duration of Drouin's recall would be questionable and the Lightning would also probably want to limit his emergency recall to under 9 games to avoid burning a year of his contract. So, recalling Drouin is probably a longshot at best, but in moments like this all options should be on the table.
On defense, with Matt Taormina currently injured, the outlook for recalls is bleak. The Lightning may well be stuck with increasing playing time for Andrej Sustr and/or Mark Barberio in the absence of any good alternatives. Were the injuries to be extreme enough, the Lightning could conceivably sign JP Cote to an NHL contract or consider cup-of-coffee auditions for the likes of Dmitry Korobov, but these scenarios seem less likely than the Lightning attempting to move forward with the defensemen they have.
How do the lines shake out? Again, there are a ton of options. My thought, upon further reflection, is Teddy Purcell almost has to go up to the top line to play with Martin St. Louis, whether that's with Filppula or Killorn at center or Purcell himself moving to center. From there, the second line almost has to become even more of a kid line, featuring Filppula, Johnson, or Killorn at center and likely featuring Connolly, Palat, or Panik on the wings. I don't foresee a return to the scoring line ranks of Ryan Malone, but we shall see.
Radko Gudas had 5 shots, 7 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 19:48.
Johnson had 3 shots, 2 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 20:12.
Killorn had 2 shots and 1 hit in 23:07.
Ondrej Palat had 2 shots, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 18:02.
Sustr had 1 hit and 1 blocked shot in 13:43.
Panik was -1 with 1 shot and 1 hit in 18:22.
In closing, in an attempt to cheer up our readers, I'll leave you with the tale of another injured center, who went on to found a hockey franchise in Florida, who was abducted from a hospital room in Boston. It's one of the funniest hockey stories ever told, and involves plot line elements like Bobby Orr, a broken hospital bed, and a block of smelly provolone cheese. It seemed oddly appropriate to be retold today. Enjoy, and get well soon, Steven Stamkos.