NHL Game Night 12/12: Lightning at Maple Leafs
For some reason, I want to believe tonight's collapse is rock bottom, but the more I think about it the more aprehensive I am that the worst is yet to come.
The Lightning choked away a 3-1 lead by allowing 4 unanswered goals in a 20 minute segment between the second and third periods in the loss. Johan Holmqvist stopped just 20 of 25 shots he faced in taking the L and it appears as teams start to see him the second time around, they're eating him alive. I've never seen a 6'3" goaltender play smaller than Holmqvist does, and I'm not sure if it's correctable at this stage of his career. The good news is that young prospects like Karri Ramo and Jonathan Boutin are getting better by the game in the AHL, but that's not helping the team right now.
Vincent Lecavalier, who would be a bona fide MVP candidate if the team wasn't underacheiving at 1 game under .500, had 1 goal and 2 assists in the game while his partner in crime, Martin St. Louis, had 1 goal and 1 assist. Filip Kuba and Dan Boyle each had 2 helpers while Nikita Alexeev and Brad Richards had the other Lightning goals.
At this point, you're going to hear the mighty Wurlitzer that is the Canadian hockey media start writing the Lightning's epitaph and I have no doubt the bogus trade rumors are going to start flowing hot and heavy. A lot of pressure is going to come bearing down on Feaster to make some sort of changes to right the ship and this team desperately needs a stay-at-home top four defenseman and possibly a decent natural right winger as well. It's beginning to get to the point where the points this team isn't picking up against beatable opponents like Toronto will definitely destroy their playoff chances, and I fear what the result will be if and when PS&E's bean counters decide to downsize the payroll. If these players really do value their time in Tampa and the team that has been built there over the past 7-8 years, they need to step up now because there will be irrevocable structural changes to the roster if they don't. I feel like John just introduced Yoko to the rest of the group, and this band may be on borrowed time.
Toronto 3:28, Alexei Ponikarovsky 9 (power play) (Tomas Kaberle, Bryan McCabe)
Tampa Bay 7:32, Nikita Alexeev 9 (Vincent Lecavalier, Filip Kuba)
Tampa Bay 12:29, Vincent Lecavalier 18 (power play) (Dan Boyle, Filip Kuba)
Tampa Bay 0:24, Brad Richards 12 (Martin St. Louis)
Toronto 12:55, Chad Kilger 5 (Darcy Tucker, Michael Peca)
Toronto 19:30, Chad Kilger 6 (Michael Peca, Pavel Kubina)
Toronto 3:37, Darcy Tucker 18 (power play) (Mats Sundin, Kyle Wellwood)
Toronto 10:55, Jeff O'Neill 9 (Bates Battaglia, Ian White)
Tampa Bay 16:16, Martin St. Louis 18 (power play) (Vincent Lecavalier, Dan Boyle)
Game sheet from NHL.com.