Light at the end of the tunnel?
Antero Niittymaki allowed 3 goals in 26 shots for the win.
STL 10:04, Winchester 1 (Backes, Kariya)(PP)
TB 10:37, St. Louis 7 (Tanguay, Lecavalier)
TB 0:36, Stamkos 19 (Foster, St. Louis)
TB 6:24, Foster 5 (Hedman, Malone)
STL 3:58, Oshie 7 (Kariya, Sydor)
TB 4:12, Halpern 6 (Lecavalier, Tanguay)
STL 9:03, Tkachuk 7 (Boyes, McDonald)(PP)
TB 11:15, Halpern 7 (Malone)
TB 19:02, Stamkos 20 (St. Louis)(EN)
I thought in the second period, in particular, the Lightning played with a determination and urgency that is very, very welcome to see. The team's puck movement was also particularly quick and crisp in that period. If they skate and pass the puck like that for 60 minutes a game here on out, they'll win a boat load of hockey games. In particular, Vincent Lecavalier was flying, and the team in general played with a chip on its shoulder. That's the kind of hockey I expected to see this season.
It's a week to Christmas and Steven Stamkos has 20 goals. He's 19 years old. He won't be 20 until February. Think about that.
Zenon Konopka was -1 in 6:45.
Paul Szczechura had 1 shot, 3 hits, and was 44% on draws in 13:48.
James Wright played 9:57.
Blair Jones was +1 with a fight, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 10:27. He struggled a bit in his own end of the rink, but if you watched that second period you saw why we've been saying all along he could flourish under Rick Tocchet. He obliterated David Backes on a clean neutral zone hit and, when challenged, answered the bell pretty well again Carlo Colaiacavo. More importantly, there were times he showed hustle and strength on the puck in the forecheck, too, and his big screen on Kurtis Foster's goal helped give the Lightning a key goal that really put St. Louis behind the eight-ball the rest of the way.
Victor Hedman had an assist and was +1 with 1 blocked shot in 24:17.
We're on the road to nowhere.
Mike Smith allowed 3 goals on 22 shots for the loss.
DET 8:24, Miller 4 (Rafalski)
DET 6:48, Bertuzzi 9 (Holmstrom, Datsyuk)
DET 10:10, Eaves 4 (Lidstrom, Rafalski)
What I want for Christmas from the Lightning? Something to actually cheer for. It's been weeks since we've had that.
Zenon Konopka had a fight and was 63% on draws.
Paul Szczechura was -1 with 1 shot in 13:18.
James Wright was -1 in 7:25.
Blair Jones was -2 with 2 shots and 5 hits in 11:04.
An epic collapse.
NSH 6:53, Smithson 5 (Legwand, Ward)
TB 11:35, Stamkos 18 (Malone, Ohlund)
TB 16:30, Lecavalier 7 (Foster, St. Louis)(PP)
NSH 1:12, Legwand 7 (Ward)
NSH 2:57, Jones 3 (Spaling, Weber)
NSH 12:22, Hornqvist 8 (Goc)
NSH 12:50, Dumont 6 (Hornqvist)
NSH 16:09, Hamhuis 3 (Suter, Goc)
TB 1:52, Foster 4 (Lecavalier, St. Louis)(PP)
TB 12:20, Lecavalier 8 (Meszaros)
NSH 13:47, Erat 11 (Sullivan, Arnott)
The offense finally wakes up and scores 4 goals and then the defense and goaltending collapse. People, it's bad.
Zenon Konopka was -1 with 1 hit and was 75% on draws in 12:33.
Paul Szczechura had 2 shots and 1 hit in 15:59.
James Wright was -3 with 2 shots, 2 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 14:25.
Blair Jones was also -3 with 2 shots, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 14:59.
Victor Hedman was -2 with 2 penalty minutes and 1 blocked shot in 13:23.
I'm hard pressed to remember an offensive effort that pathetic.
Antero Niittymaki allowed 4 goals on 29 shots. The goal he allowed at the end of the second period was painfully soft and essentially ended the game. He also tried to allow another softie late in the third that he barely swept off the line. It was not a strong performance, although the Lightning weren't much of a threat to Chicago all game long, so it didn't really matter.
CHI 7:42, Kane 10 (Keith)
CHI 10:42, Eager 2 (Hossa, Sopel)
CHI 19:44, Hossa 4 (Sharp, Seabrook)
CHI 6:01, Toews 9 (Byfuglien, Seabrook)
18 shots on goal. How does an NHL team with this kind of offensive talent allow itself to be held to 18 shots on goal? Vincent Lecavalier (-3, 1 shot on goal) still is doing nothing on the forecheck around the opposition cage, which is where he showed he was an elite player. His failures are helping to drag down Martin St. Louis. Alex Tanguay has been lost all season. Steven Stamkos has forgotten about the necessity of shooting the puck (2 shots), and that's hurt Ryan Malone because he's the type of guy who hops on rebounds and excels in scrums around the cage.
The power play is a joke right now. They don't surround loose pucks and win one on one battles. They don't make smart, short passes to loosen up the opposing PK. They labor trying to free up Kurtis Foster for his shot and have forgotten they have lethal options like Vincent Lecavalier around the circles and Steven Stamkos around the circles and in the slot.
It's bad. This is a team that is fundamentally awful offensively right now. When Stephane Veilleux is the best player on the ice on a team with this roster, that also suggests a lack of effort, too.
Zenon Konopka had 5 penalty minutes, 2 hits, and was 33% on draws in 7:45.
Paul Szczechura had 1 hit and 1 blocked shot in 15:36.
James Wright was -1 with 1 shot and 2 hits in 12:55.
Victor Hedman was -2 with 4 penalty minutes, 1 shot, and 1 blocked shot in 19:05. His poor decision on the Blackhawks second goal was terrible, and that was a very deflating goal for the Lightning. That's a mistake that cannot happen.
Keep your foot on the gas and you win.
Antero Niittymaki allowed 1 goal on 35 shots but he also allowed 1 goal on 3 shootout attempts and that was all it took for him to get the penalty shot session loss. He deserved a lot better. He was absolutely brilliant in the third period.
TB 12:12, Downie 6 (Lecavalier, St. Louis)
COL 12:11, Wolski 12 (Stastny, Wilson)
The Lightning were actually leading in shots after two periods 17-14, primarily on the strength of a very good first 30 minutes. They started to let off the gas midway through the middle frame, and then suddenly the Avalanche hung a 20-5 shot disparity on them the rest of the way. It's unacceptable. The forecheck just evaporates way too easily for this team, especially when they're trying to protect a lead. Take a tip from Chris Dingman, the best way to protect a one goal lead is to get the puck behind their net and sit on it for 30 seconds. The Lightning are lucky to hold possession in the other team's zone for 3 seconds in scenarios like tonight. Someone's got to start paying the price to hold onto the puck.
And for the love of God, someone please score a (Ooh La La!) shootout goal.
Matt Smaby led the Lightning in hits with 4 in 15:30. Hello old friend. We missed you.
Zenon Konopka had 1 hit, 1 blocked shot, and was 63% on draws in 8:37.
Paul Szczechura was -1 with 4 shots and 1 hit in 18:18.
James Wright had 1 shot, 1 hit, 1 blocked shot, and was 67% on draws in 15:32.
Victor Hedman had 1 shot in 25:31.
Lightning fall to .500. Season at a crossroads.
Mike Smith allowed 3 goals on 32 shots for the loss.
TB 1:08, St. Louis 6 (Lecavalier, Malone)
EDM 11:21, Gilbert 2 (Nilsson, Stortini)
EDM 6:31, Penner 17 (Gagner, Brule)
TB 7:34, Hedman 2 (St. Louis)
EDM 11:07, Stortini 3 (Stone)
Messages are being sent. If they aren't received, changes are almost sure to be the next option.
Zenon Konopka was -1 with 12 penalty minutes, and was 80% on draws in 7:48.
Paul Szczechura was -2 with 2 shots and 1 hit and was 56% on draws in 20:50.
James Wright was -2 in 13:57.
Victor Hedman had a goal, 2 penalty minutes, 5 shots, 2 hits, and 2 blocked shots as he rose back to the 26 minute mark with 26:04 of ice time.
They can skate with the Caps, but they couldn't finish their chances.
Mike Smith allowed 3 goals on 34 shots for the loss.
WSH 7:39, Ovechkin 19 (Semin)
WSH 12:32, Eric Fehr 8 (Fleischmann)
WSH 19:35, Ovechkin 20 (Fleischmann, Semin)(PP)
Steven Stamkos 0 shots on goal. I rest my case. The coaching staff needs to get on Steven hard to shoot the puck more. If I was Tocchet I'd tell Lecavalier, Stamkos, and St. Louis the first one to 5 shots in the next game gets $500.
Zenon Konopka was -1 with 1 shot and 1 hit in 8:57 and was 50% on draws.
Paul Szczechura had 1 shot, 1 hit, and was 80% on draws in 13:17.
James Wright had 2 shots and was 50% on draws in 13:38.
Victor Hedman was -1 with 2 hits in 19:11.
Just what the doctor ordered.
Mike Smith stopped all 30 shots he faced for the shutout. He's been fairly resilient this season. He had a terrible game against Ottawa earlier in the year and he had a good start his next time out afterwards. He was suspect a couple of times against Boston, in my opinion, but he shut the door tonight against the Isles.
TB 1:35, Malone 16 (Meszaros, St. Louis)
TB 19:08, Downie 5 (Meszaros, St. Louis)(PP)
TB 2:58, Halpern 5 (Foster, Lecavalier)(PP)
TB 10:31, Hedman 1 (Lecavalier, Tanguay)
Zenon Konopka had 1 hit, 1 blocked shot, and was 71% on draws in 7:34.
James Wright had 1 shot, 1 hit, and was 50% on draws in 12:51.
Blair Jones had 1 shot, 1 blocked shot, and was 50% on draws in 12:00.
Victor Hedman scored his first NHL goal and was +1 with 2 penalty minutes, 2 shots, 3 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 21:32. To use the basketball vernacular, the big man filled the lane and finished with authority on the "fast break" 3-on-1. Seriously, he looked like a shark attacking his prey the way he recognized the odd man rush situation and used his speed to blast right to the net and he made no mistakes with his shot. Beautiful, beautiful goal.
I'd almost rather lose a game 4-2 then cough up a winning goal in the last minute. Almost.
Antero Niittymaki allowed 3 goals on 19 shots for the loss. It's been an alarming trend over the last week and a half where the Lightning haven't been getting quite the same level of goaltending they were getting, and the results have very quickly turned sour because of it. That's not to say Niitty was terrible, but 3 goals on 19 shots isn't a pretty number.
TB 1:26, Lecavalier 6 (Halpern)
NJ 1:15, Rolston 9 (Niedermayer)(PP)
NJ 5:14, Bergfors 8 (Zharkov)(PP)
TB 17:00, Downie 4 (Stamkos, Malone)(PP)
NJ 19:21, Langenbrunner 6 (Greene, Rolston)
Zenon Konopka had 5 penalty minutes and 1 shot in 7:18.
Paul Szczechura played just 4:12 in the game.
James Wright got in his first NHL fight and had 2 hits and 1 blocked shot in 9:23.
Blair Jones had 3 hits and 1 blocked shot in 13:27. Let me be one of the first to say how proud I am of Blair to work his way into this opportunity. He has always had a lot of promise since his days in junior, but he's fluctuated between the penthouse in his rookie season and the doghouse for the past couple of seasons because he's a bit of a laid back Western farm boy, as Steve Stirling once put it to me, so the physical and defensive intensity hasn't always been there night in and night out. He's really started to understand more about being prepared to go every night and he's earned this chance. Let that be a lesson to all the youngsters in Norfolk: even in your fourth season of pro you've got a chance if you work hard, prepare like a professional, and put it together at the rink.
Victor Hedman was +1 with 1 hit in 19:32.
Boston remains the Lightning's chamber of horrors.
Mike Smith allowed 4 goals on 38 shots for the loss. I thought Smitty's play was subpar tonight. I think Boston's first and third goals were suspect, and I think they really changed the complexion of the game. You can't spot Tim Thomas two extra goals of support in his own barn. He'll beat you.
BOS 8:05, Savard 5 (Morris, Chara)(PP)
BOS 14:03, Bergeron 8 (Chara, Recchi)
BOS 13:36, Sturm 7 (Recchi, Bergeron)
BOS 16:09, Sturm 8 (Bergeron, Recchi)
TB 1:27, Halpern 4 (Downie, Malone)
The team didn't play as poorly as the score indicated, outside of the goaltending. The forecheck and the dirty work in front of the opposition's cage is coming along. They'd have gotten more were it not for Thomas being Thomas tonight.
It was good to see Matt Smaby back in action, although he only got one shift in the third period after seeing about 10-11 minutes in the first two periods. He was feeling his way out in this game. I think he needs a couple of games to get comfortable again and then the hits will start coming. I hope the Lightning recognize what they have in Smaby. Big, physical defensemen are rare and worth their weight in gold. It seems like every year teams draft 2-3 dozen of these types of guys out of junior and only a handful pan out. So, when you get one that does, you need to keep him and continue to develop him.
Steven Stamkos has gotten into more of a pass-first mode the past couple of games. Shoot the puck, young man. Shoot it from the team hotel. Shoot it from the nacho stand. Shoot it from the restaurant after the game. Shoot the puck. He had 5 shots tonight, but he gave up at least three shots from prime scoring areas. Shoot.
Zenon Konopka had 2 shots and 4 hits in 8:17.
Paul Szczechura had 2 shots and 1 hit in 13:16 but was 43% on draws. He's been one of the Lightning's better forwards over the past couple of games.
James Wright had 2 blocked shots in 8:53.
Victor Hedman was -2 with 2 penalty minutes, 2 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 14:41.