Ritola, Mattias

NHL Game Night: 10-17-11 Panthers at Lightning

Penalties and soft goals kill a good effort.

FLA-7
TB-4

Dwayne Roloson allowed 7 goals on 33 shots for the loss. The switch to Mathieu Garon may be a foregone conclusion now. My expectation is Steve Yzerman will now inquire about Evgeny Nabokov now, too.

First Period
FLA Kopecky (1), (Jovanovski, Campbell)(PP), 6:15
TB Purcell (2), (Shannon, Bergeron)(PP), 9:22
TB Hedman (1), (Hall, Thompson), 14:00
FLA Weiss (2), (Kulikov, Campbell)(PP), 17:12

Second Period
FLA Versteeg (2), (Weiss, Campbell), 2:35
FLA Bergenheim (1), (unassisted)(SH), 12:17
TB Lecavalier (2), (Bergeron, Gilroy), 16:21

Third Period
FLA Versteeg (3), (Fleischmann, Weiss)(PP), 0:25
TB Stamkos (2), (Gilroy, Bergeron), 10:53
FLA Weiss (3), (Versteeg, Jovanovski), 15:28
FLA Garrison (2), (Campbell, Versteeg)(PP), 16:47

Marc-Andre Bergeron was the game's third star.

It's tough. I though the want-to level was there tonight, but mistakes, penalties, and poor goaltending led to the team not getting the result. The key is for the effort level to stay high while the mistakes, penalties, and poor goaltending get resolved.

Brett Connolly had 2 shots, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 11:56. I thought he had his best game as an NHLer thus far on the forecheck.

Mattias Ritola had 1 shot and 2 penalty minutes in 10:32. The guy looks due to get on the scoresheet, to me.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 10-15-11 Lightning at Panthers

1-2-2 on the opening road trip. Home cooking, please.

TB-2
FLA-3 (SO)

Mathieu Garon stopped 36 of 38 before allowing 1 of 3 shooters to convert in the penalty shot session for the shootout loss. He was outstanding tonight. He stood on his head for much of the first 40-50 minutes of the game while the Lightning finally figured out how to compete a bit.

First Period
FLA Jovanovski (1), (Kopecky, Booth)(PP), 11:48

Second Period
NO SCORING

Third Period
TB Bergeron (1), (Moore), 9:43
FLA Versteeg (1), (Kulikov, Campbell), 17:05
TB Bergeron (2), (Kubina, St. Louis), 17:44

Overtime
NO SCORING

Shootout
TB- NONE
FLA- Goc

Marc-Andre Bergeron was the second star of the game and supplied one of the first real "oh hell yes" moments of the season, hulking up at the right point and banging his stick before finally receiving the setup for a game tying cannon.

The team still got outshot 38-30, but you saw signs in this game that the compete level and the pride level is coming back. Credit to Steve Downie for having the guts to fight a much bigger man in Eric Gudbranson, a fight he should've gotten killed in, and for holding his own. Credit to guys like Tom Pyatt and Mattias Ritola and Blair Jones for hustling, and digging, and taking the body. They started to show some pride tonight, and it was infectious. All of a sudden, the top line guys broke out of their stupor and started playing a bit like top line guys in the final frame. It feels like the flood gates may open in the home debut in the new blue unis.

It seems like this team lost some of its identity over the offseason with Sean Bergenheim departing and Dana Tyrell not making the team and breaking up the Hall/Thompson/Tyrell line. It's taking some time for the team to re-find its footing and its work ethic, but the first baby steps look like they might've happened tonight.

Brett Connolly had 2 shots and 4 hits in 11:10 tonight. I liked that he was around the net and he actually didn't look out of place along the wall. More games like that, even if he's not as creative and dangerous, will keep him in the league, in my opinion.

Mattias Ritola had 2 shots, 3 hits, and 1 penalty minute in 13:05. I'm really liking how Ritola looks so far this year. He was rusty in his first game, but he's been noticable in puck pursuit in every game since and he had everything right but the finish tonight on a partial breakaway.

Blair Jones had 3 hits in 6:18. The young man was absolutely crushing Panthers tonight. #49 is Guy Boucher's V8 powered snow plow out there.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 10-13-11 Lightning at Islanders

At what point are these guys going to feel embarrassed?

TB-1
NYI-5

Dwayne Roloson allowed 5 goals on 18 shots for the loss before being lifted for Mathieu Garon, who stopped all 16 he faced the rest of the way.

First Period
NYI Tavares (1), (unassisted), 0:36
TB Stamkos (1), (Bergeron), 7:10
NYI Moulson (1), (Tavares, Eaton), 9:28
NYI Tavares (2), (Moulson, Parenteau), 15:15
NYI Parenteau (1), (Tavares), 18:39

Second Period
NYI Grabner (1), (Okposo), 6:47

Third Period
NO SCORING

Let me put this in very simple terms: in the last 3 games the Lightning have allowed 14 goals, and if you take Tomas Vokoun's softies out of the equation, they've only scored 4. They should have been -10 over the past 3 games, and that's terrible no matter how you slice it.

You would think they would've shown more pride than to allow the team that they fought tooth and nail to 7 games in the Eastern Conference Finals to steamroll them in Boston. Nah. Their division nemesis who they battled in the playoffs and that has tormented them over the past 3-4 seasons? Nah. No pride displayed in either of those games. No forecheck. No focus. No attention to detail.

Having one of the best coaches in the league I wouldn't have expected that kind of effort in back-to-back games, and I damned sure wouldn't have expected it in 3 straight games. But, 36 seconds in, the Lightning started the cycle all over again, and this time they do it against a perennial bottom feeder in the Islanders. Seriously, other than Downie, Ritola, Moore, and maybe one or two others, did anyone else on the team mentally show up for the first 30 minutes?

Will they feel embarrassed now? I don't know. If I were GM, I'm not sure I'd wait for the team to decide to play focused, determined hockey. There are players like Carter Ashton and Tyler Johnson who already are playing focused, determined hockey in the minors. Why on earth they should be working for pennies on the dollar behind guys who should be -10 the past 3 games and have been stealing money from the organization. The complacency and the arrogance have to stop now.

Brett Connolly was +1 with 3 shots and 1 blocked shot in 14:41. To finish a plus in a game you get clobbered 5-1 isn't shabby.

Mattias Ritola was -2 with 2 penalty minutes, 8 shots, and 1 hit in 15:11. The +/- is ugly, but the effort he made on the forecheck and in the offensive third wasn't. I was impressed with how he played. If only a few more players on the team cared about more than their image.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 10-10-11 Lightning at Capitals

Didn't even deserve a point.

TB-5
WSH 6 (SO)

Dwayne Roloson allowed 5 goals on 43 shots before he allowed 2 of 3 shooters to convert for the shootout loss. Honestly, though, without Roli the Lightning lose 10-5 in this game as terrible as they played.

First Period
TB Purcell (1), (Gervais), 2:22
WSH Johansson (1), (Alzner), 4:49
TB Gervais (1), (Bergeron, Downie), 8:35
WSH Wideman (1), (Halpern, Perrault), 16:50

Second Period
TB Moore (1), (Shannon, Connolly), 00:56
WSH Brouwer (1), (Schultz, Johansson), 3:42

Third Period
WSH Chimera (1), (Laich, Ward), 4:00
TB Thompson (1), (Clark, Moore), 7:42
TB Clark (1), (Malone, Purcell), 12:56
WSH Chimera (2), (unassisted), 17:16

Overtime
NO SCORING

Shootout
WSH- Hendricks, Semin
TB- NONE

Dominic Moore was the game's third star. Probably a bit tongue and cheek by the Washington media considering he assisted on Chimera's tying goal with a terrible clear attempt. That was the last of a rash of bad turnovers the likes of which I haven't seen in a while. Veterans were doing it: Moore (2), Kubina (2), St. Louis (1). Rookies were doing it: Connolly (2). It was awful. And, when you couple that with the Lightning simply not winning puck battles, you get a game where the Lightning were outshot 43-28. Were it not for Tomas Vokoun being positively horrible on three soft goals, they'd have had no shot.

Brett Connolly had his first NHL point on an assist and was +1 with 1 hit in 12:46. The stat line may be good, but the game film was terrible. He had two bad turnovers, he was soft along the wall, and he just wasn't as offensively dynamic as he was against the Bruins. That's the kind of tape that gets you demoted.

Mattias Ritola had 1 shot in 6:36, and he was largely ineffective.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Preseason Game Night: 9-29-11 Lightning at Canadiens

Lightning looking strong for the start of the season, but still room for improvement.

TB-4
MTL-0

Dwayne Roloson stopped all 24 shots he faced. He looks sharp. Ready to go.

First Period
TB 9:15 Stamkos, (Gervais)
TB 11:51 Stamkos, (St. Louis, Gilroy)

Second Period
TB 16:43 Connolly, (St. Louis, Kubina)

Third Period
TB 18:49, Connolly, (Malone)

The game could've been a 6-0 final. Vincent Lecavalier had a soft goal by Peter Budaj taken off the board by a quick whistle and another play by Tom Pyatt that was likely a goal wasn't counted. Overall, it was a very strong effort by the forwards and goaltenders, but there's room for improvement on the backline. They looked a little sloppy in their own end turning the puck over on breakouts and there was a 10 minute period at the end of the first period they were living dangerously within the first 10 feet of their blueline in the Lightning zone. That's got to get cleaned up. The Canadiens hit a few posts tonight and Roloson was sharp. That won't always be the case, though. Boucher has things to harp about on this game tape.

The question of what to do with Brett Connolly is an interesting one. Bob McKenzie is saying he's likely to start the season with the Lightning and at least get a regular season audition, and it's hard to argue with that because he keeps scoring. That said, he doesn't pass the eyeball test, to me, when it comes to having NHL strength on the puck. I will say this, though, if he doesn't stick in Tampa this year he'll probably the Calder Trophy favorite going into next season.

The rest of the bubble forwards had a tougher time of it, in my opinion. Pyatt got a goal waved off so he was probably the best of the rest. Dana Tyrell skated really well but had some turnovers and stubbed his toe in some situations where he could've been more dangerous offensively. Blair Jones' slow first step really stood out in this game where there was a lot of flow. He hits everything that moves, and he's an honest player, but he looked like a SUV on a street full of sports cars tonight.

Mattias Ritola looks to be in and Connolly may get his NHL regular season audition and Pyatt is probably going to make it. Tyrell and Jones may not make it to the finish line, though.

Box score from NHL.com.

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