NHL Game Night: 1-12-12 Hurricanes at Lightning

It's sad to think with 40 games left to play the season may already be effectively over.

CAR-5
TB-2

Mathieu Garon allowed 3 goals on 8 shots for the loss before giving way to Dwayne Roloson who allowed 2 goals on 24 shots the rest of the way.

First Period
CAR Ruutu (15), (Staal, Tlusty), 3:27
CAR Tlusty (8), (Staal), 4:41
TB Thompson (4), (unassisted), 14:36
CAR Harrison (6), (Ruutu, Faulk), 15:10
CAR Tlusty (9), (Staal, Ruutu), 16:18

Second Period
TB Purcell (8), (Gervais, Stamkos), 2:49

Third Period
CAR Brent (5), (Stewart, Harrison), 13:41

It's time for Steve Yzerman to throw the switch and to begin working the phones as a seller. If there was a team in the NHL I could've hand picked for the Lightning to get a win tonight, it would've been the Carolina Hurricanes. Even in their darkest hours, the Lightning have always seemed to torment Carolina. To get blown out 5-2 at home by a club they've effectively owned is a pretty prominent red flag that indicates the comeback in the standings isn't coming.

There are a lot of veterans on this team that will be unrestricted free agents who shouldn't be back next season that should be converted into draft picks and mid-level prospects. There's still more players that the Lightning need to make a decision about, because there are passengers on this roster. Not everyone is taking a beating like Steve Downie to try to win hockey games, and those players deserve scrutiny.

Last, it's time for some youth. It's time to give Brett Connolly more ice time. It's time to give a look to guys like Carter Ashton and Mark Barberio who are currently in the minors. The 2012-2013 season begins now, and the next 40 games should be devoted to finding a mix for next season that can go out and get this Lightning team back to the elite status we thought they were headed toward at the end of last season.

Connolly had 2 shots and 1 hit in 9:44. He's been in the 9-10 minute range since returning to the team from the WJC's. The way I see it, he needs to be playing with Stamkos and/or Lecavalier the next 40 games on a scoring line. Prepare him for next season. And, if he plays well, he'll make certain guys who aren't carrying their weight as alleged scoring threats even more expendable.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.