Tampa Bay Lightning
Marty returns to Tampa... leaves with a L.
Ben Bishop allowed 3 goals on 19 shots for the victory. It's so hard to stay sharp and keep a high sv% when you're facing so few shots. Good problem to have, though.
5:25 TB Stamkos (15), (Filppula, Callahan)(PP)
9:00 NYR Zuccarello (4), (Nash)
11:04 NYR Boyle (1), (Stepan, Brassard)(PP)
17:34 TB Callahan (9), (Garrison, Stamkos)(PP)
10:17 TB Callahan (10), (Stamkos, Killorn)
9:38 TB Kucherov (8), (Johnson, Carle)
12:49 NYR Nash (15), (unassisted)
On a night when all the focus was on Martin St. Louis returning to Tampa just 2 points shy of 1,000 for his career, he was held off the board and Ryan Callahan posted 2 goals and 1 assist, instead. I wouldn't have bet on this when the trade went down, but you can make a pretty darned iron clad argument at this juncture Ryan Callahan's a better NHL player than Martin St. Louis right now. The fact the Lightning also got Slats to cough up 2 first rounders in the transaction just makes it all the more lopsided. I can't see the deal getting better looking for the Rangers as time wears on. 5 years from now I suspect it'll be pretty clear Steve Yzerman stole Sather's Rolex, car keys, and the shirt off his back in that trade. And, in his own selfish, petulant way, Marty may have done the Lightning one last solid on their way to becoming an elite superpower in the league.
Overall, I thought the Lightning again showed they're 1-2 weight classes above the Rangers in strength. In the normal run of play, the Rangers were nowhere in this contest, getting outshot 29-19. They manufactured some goals off of faceoffs and an early period turnover, but everything else was pretty well controlled by Tampa Bay. In fact, had the Lightning not sagged a little in focus right after the Marty tribute video, when the team surrendered 2 quickies, I suspect the game might've been as big a squash as the game played at MSG. The Rangers are a very mediocre-at-best team right now, and I fully expect them to surrender a pick in the 10-15 range to the Lightning in the summer draft. Beating them at every opportunity only helps to make that prophecy reality.
Cedric Paquette had 1 shot in 11:30.
Vladislav Namestnikov had 2 hits in 12:19.
Young Lightning grow up a little.
Ben Bishop allowed 1 goal on 31 shots for the victory. If you limit the odd man rushes the way the Lightning did tonight, Ben's pretty hard to beat.
3:11 MIN Parise (7), (Vanek)
13:42 TB Stamkos (14), (Stralman, Garrison)(PP)
18:07 TB Killorn (6), (Stralman, Callahan)
The Lightning avenged one of their worst losses of the season to the Wild earlier this year and showed a bit of growth against a type of team they've traditionally struggled with. Not only are the Wild a faster team in the Western Conference style, but they also play a close-to-the-vest style a la the New Jersey Devils, which has always been a challenge for the team. They came out hard, like they did in the previous contest, but maintained their effort level throughout the game including after a mistake led to the Wild taking a 1-0 lead. And, when they got a power play opportunity down 1-0, they capitalized with strong puck possession despite some very tight penalty killing by the Wild. This game was steel on steel and both teams played a strong game and all the credit in the world goes to the Lightning for coming out of it with the 2 points.
Now, here's the great thing: they accomplished this tonight without Hedman. They accomplished it with Drouin still playing less than 10 minutes and not yet making the impact his talents indicate he can. And, they did it with Stamkos still a touch below the level of play he showed before he broke his leg a year ago. If all those things happen, and they're already capable of winning a game against a good Western Conference team when it's steel on steel like it was tonight, what can they do when they're at full strength clicking to their full potential?
Cedric Paquette was -1 with 3 hits and 2 blocked shots in 13:05. He was out for the Lightning to try to answer the 6-on-4 situation to close out the contest.
Jonathan Drouin played 9:37.
Ben Bishop allowed 4 goals on 20 shots for the loss.
1:29 TOR Clarkson (6), (Winnik, Polak)
18:50 TB Killorn (5), (unassisted)(SH)
2:45 TOR Panik (4), (unassisted)
12:31 TOR van Riemsdyk (8), (Bozak, Franson)
15:15 TOR van Riemsdyk (9), (Kessel, Phaneuf)
15:47 TB Stamkos (13), (Kucherov)
19:52 TOR Polak (3), (Bozak)(EN)
Things are never as good or as bad as they seem.
Jonathan Drouin was -2 with 2 hits in 11:28.
Vladislav Namestnikiv was +1 with 1 shot and 2 blocked shots in 12:39. He was also 30% on draws.
Deck a little too stacked.
Evgeny Nabokov allowed 5 goals on 36 shots for the loss. He actually performed better than his last couple of starts, but the Clutterbuck shorthanded goal was from a less than prime angle and was the turning point of the game. Soft.
11:53 TB Killorn (4), (Garrison, Drouin)
0:39 NYI Clutterbuck (2), (unassisted)(SH)
12:23 NYI Grabovski (4), (Nielsen, Okposo)
13:26 NYI Strome (3), (de Haan)
0:36 NYI Visnovsky (2), (Nielsen, Tavares)(PP)
2:14 TB Palat (5), (Carle, Kucherov)
8:55 NYI Cizikas (2), (Okposo, Nelson)
This was just one of those nights. The Lightning weren't super flat, but certain players like Callahan who've been lights out lately were clearly not in their best form after the emotional tilt with the Rangers last night. You couple that with the fact the Islanders have basically been off for a week before this game and throw in a pinch of Nabby in net and two dashes of some puck luck for the Isles and this one got out of hand.
Fortunately, the Lightning didn't really desperately need points out of this game. They close the second 10 game segment of the season with 28 points, giving them 4 insurance points heading into segment three of the year. 12 in 10, do it again.
Cedric Paquette had 1 blocked shot and was 50% on draws in 2:40 and left the game with what appeared to be either a foot or ankle injury after blocking a shot. His absence was noticeable.
Jonathan Drouin had a helper and was -1 in 10:28. He had one amazing pass on the power play to Kucherov that could've easily netted a goal, but Nikita was stunned in amazement that Drouin was even able to thread the puck through and didn't have the reflexes to get it on frame.
Vladislav Namestnikov was 33% on draws in 13:57. He had legs, but looking at the stat sheet reveals nothing was doing.
Ben Bishop allowed 1 goal on 16 shots for the victory, and the 1 he allowed was a deflection of a pass off his own defenseman, Garrison. He didn't have a lot of work, but he handled what came his way well.
6:50 TB Kucherov (7), (Johnson, Palat)
14:20 TB Callahan (7), (Stamkos, Filppula)(PP)
0:32 NYR St. Louis (7), (Brassard, Stepan)(PP)
14:08 TB Stamkos (12), (Filppula)
18:42 TB Killorn (3), (Johnson, Palat)
17:09 TB Callahan (8), (Stamkos)
That was an absolute squash of a game. It was a no contest. It was almost unfair to watch the decaying corpse of the Rangers squad picked apart piece by piece by the speed and youth of the Lightning. And the Lightning didn't let up in this one. They made a point tonight. They knew everyone in the league was looking to see how they'd handle their first game against Marty since the trade, and they crushed the Rangers. They broken their damned backs in that game.
Best of all, as of this posting, the Rangers would have a lottery pick and would have the 11th most ping pong balls. That's right, Sather paid Callahan and 2 1st round picks for the privilege of watching his team get pounded like that tonight. Enjoy, Slats.
The Lightning have now banked 4 insurance points with 1 game left to go in the second 10 game set of the season. Things are looking outstanding, thus far, with the Lightning holding the second most points in the NHL right now. They also lead the league in goals by a mile and their +22 goal differential is second only to Pittsburgh's +25.
Cedric Paquette had 3 shots, 2 hits, 1 blocked shot, and was 67% on draws in 16:25 of ice time. He was dangerous offensively and responsible defensively, and 16:25 of ice time is telling me the coaching staff likely doesn't want him going anywhere.
Vladislav Namestnikov had 2 shots, 1 hit, and 2 blocked shots and was 33% on draws in 13:51. He got the biggest compliment of all when Phil Esposito told him he plays a lot like Larionov. Impressive.