Tampa Bay Lightning
Bad goaltending and bad habits come home to roost.
Evgeni Nabokov allowed 4 goals on 8 shots for the loss before giving way to Ben Bishop, who allowed 3 on 14 shots the rest of the way. Nabby allowed 2 short-side softies and and small, weak effort on a player swinging in wide from the wing before being lifted. Terrible.
7:37 MIN Scandella (1), (Pominville, Parise)
8:16 MIN Koivu (1), (Vanek)
11:04 TB Stralman (1), (Brewer, Johnson)
12:41 MIN Haula (1), (Niederreiter)
17:15 MIN Zucker (3), (Cooke, Carter)
2:11 MIN Parise (3), (Pominville, Suter)
11:12 MIN Spurgeon (2), (Vanek, Coyle)
16:50 TB Kucherov (1), (Stralman)
13:44 MIN Zucker (4), (Scandella)(SH)
The deck was pretty well stacked against the Lightning to start with playing at the end of a grueling road trip on a back-to-back against a quality opponent with a makeshift lineup due to multiple injuries. When Nabby gave up what I would consider to be 2.5 soft goals, those were the straws that broke the camel's back. Your veteran backup's got to be better than that. He doesn't have to win the game for you, but he's got to allow you to keep contact and give your team a chance to manufacture a point or two. Minnesota didn't exactly light the world on fire with a 22 shot effort, and once Nabby was lifted, 2 of their goals came off plays where the Lightning were taking chances because the score was so lopsided. In other words, it would've been a very different game if Nabby had made the stops in the First Period he was supposed to.
The Lightning return home for the final game of this first 10 game segment of the season needing 1 more point to hit the 12 you want them to get from each segment.
Cedric Paquette was -1 with 1 blocked shot and he was 75% on draws in 13:57.
Jonathan Drouin was -2 in 19:10. Ineffective, and he might've worn the second largest set of goat horns in the game on a weak turnover behind the Lightning net that killed the team's momentum after closing the game to 2-1 and Gudas nearly tying it with a point shot off the post. Drouin's turnover ends up behind Nabby and it's 3-1 Wild. The rest was history.
Jonathan Marchessault was -1 with 1 shot in 12:33.
Vladislav Namestnikov was -2 with 1 shot and 3 hits in 12:27. He was also 25% on draws and took an elbow to the mush that cost him a few shifts. Rough night, although I can't fault him for the two minuses he was on the ice for.
Lightning best the Jest.
Ben Bishop allowed 2 goals on 42 shots for the victory. How he didn't get a star in this game, I don't know.
4:41 TB Stamkos (6), (Drouin, Filppula)
4:45 TB Drouin (1), (Kucherov, Johnson)
5:33 WPG Little (4), (Enstrom, Ladd)(PP)
12:52 TB Namestnikov (2), (Palat, Kucherov)(PP)
18:02 TB Palat (3), (Johnson, Kucherov)
10:19 WPG Wheeler (3), (Perreault, Enstrom)
Jonathan Drouin and Ondrej Palat were the game's first and second stars. Complete homer move by the Winnipeg media to give a Jet a star tonight. That team's a dumpster fire, and Kucherov and Bishop would've been far more meritorious choices.
One silver lining of the injuries to Killorn and Callahan is that it's forced Cooper to tinker with some combinations that were outside his original thinking, and I believe he's found two really good combos with Filppula/Stamkos/Drouin and Palat/Johnson/Kucherov. The latter line is particularly fun to watch. The former line? I suspect you could put a sack of potatoes with the other two guys and they'd rack up assists.
Overall, that game was inartful and were I a coach I'd load the game film up in a cannon and shoot it to the moon. The Lightning should hardly be proud of their performance, particularly defensively in allowing 42 shots on goal. Tonight, though, I'll grant them a bit of a pass considering they were playing in a game that was officiated at a minor league level and against an opponent that might as well be a minor league team. Throw the newest injuries (J.T. Brown and Brett Connolly) on top of that, and I'll issue a full pardon for the night's play.
It's amazing to me that Winnipeg has not improved an iota since moving from Atlanta. None. They're awful. The Lightning played down to their level in indulging the Jets in a structure-free pond hockey exhibition and still absolutely smashed them because their skill level is just that much higher. I hate to see that too much, because I think it reinforces bad habits when teams get a payoff despite bad play. But, still, that's sink mangy animal up there in Winnipeg that needed to be put down tonight. J-E-S-T, jest, jest, jest. They're a joke.
Cedric Paquette had 3 shots and 2 hits in 14:14 in his first game back from recall, sporting #13 this time around. My compliments to his tailor.
Drouin had his first NHL goal, which was put on a tee for him by Nikita Kucherov, and a far more impressive helper on Stamkos' goal to go with a +1 rating, 2 shots, and 2 blocked shots. His hands are irrationally quick, both with and without the puck. 99% of players don't get that puck over to Stamkos in tight on that 2-on-1, and he pick-pocketed Winnipeg players repeatedly throughout the course of the game in both the offensive and defensive thirds.
Vladislav Namestinikov had a goal and 1 shot and 1 blocked shot in 10:48. He got a whisp of a deflection on a Palat shot on the PP, and that was all it took to get his name on the sheet for his 2nd of the season. He remains nicely active offensively, although clearly the coaching staff has to be careful not to put him in perilous situations defensively and in the faceoff circles.
Lightning scratch out 2 critical points at altitude.
Evgeny Nabokov allowed 1 goal on 22 shots for the OT win in a classic duel with Bolt Prospects Alumni Karri Ramo.
1:12 CGY Wideman (3), (Gaudreau, Russell)(PP)
17:44 TB Filppula (1), (Garrison, Drouin)
3:00 TB Palat (2), (Stralman, Johnson)
Nabokov and Ondrej Palat were the game's first and third stars.
As disappointing as the effort was against Edmonton, you have to give a ton of credit to the guys tonight for fighting back late on the back end of a back-to-back at altitude to get the 2 points. That's impressive, and that showed heart from a team that had theirs questioned after the previous night's debacle.
If you look at our time-honored 12/10 formula (12 points in every 10 game segment), there is a tremendous difference between sitting at 9 points through 7 games and sitting at 7, because the Lightning can go .500 the rest of the way in the segment and hit their minimum target rather than having to rake in 5 of the last 6 possible points. Tonight was huge when you consider that, and how important it is to stay on schedule early in the year.
Jonathan Drouin had his first NHL point, a helper, and was +1 with 1 shot in 19:57. It took a whopping two games for him to make his way onto a scoring line. What took him so long?
Vladislav Namestnikov was 40% on draws and had 1 shot in 11:49 of ice time.
Didn't see much want-to in the team tonight.
Ben Bishop allowed 3 goals on 23 shots for the loss. It's not a good stat line, but it doesn't reveal how many point blank opportunities Ben turned away just to keep the Lightning in striking distance in this game. He deserved better than what he got from the team in front of him tonight.
1:21 TB Boyle (1), (Morrow, Garrison)
4:36 EDM Schultz (1), (Yakupov, Hall)
14:57 EDM Hall (4), (unassisted)(PS)
13:55 TB Connolly (2), (Johnson)
16:35 EDM Nugent-Hopkins (1), (Eberle)
Brett Connolly was the game's third star. He had a Third Period tying goal and a goal waved off on a dubious crease violation call in the First Period. He took his usual lazy minor penalty early in the game, and once he got it out of the way got stronger as the game went on. He's still not where I'd want him to be, but that was a better effort tonight, to be sure.
I wish I could say the same for the rest of the Lightning. That was bad. Passionless. Flavorless. Antiseptic. Bad. They looked like they were going through the motions, and only getting 24 shots on goal against that team and that goaltender is a bad joke. It's like the Lightning were content just to amble their way through the game and have it not be a track meet rather than trying to impose some will and some tempo on the Oilers. That's a bad look, compounded further by Ryan Callahan leaving the game with an injury in the Second Period, right before you head to Calgary at elevation. People will make an excuse for the loss based on the waved off goal in the First Period. Let me answer that in a word: bollocks. They didn't deserve anything but a loss tonight. You'd have a hard time winning anything other than a dog show with effort like that.
Jonathan Drouin was -1 with 1 shot and 1 blocked shot in 16:10 in his first NHL game. His line doesn't reflect how crafty he looked as a playmaker. He needs to get a regular set of linemates and a regular shift on the PP, and the points will almost certainly follow.
Vladislav Namestnikov had 1 shot and 1 hit and was 50% on draws in 11:33. He took an unlucky high sticking call in the Third Period and also was stoned by Scrivens on a big chance all alone in the slot earlier in the period. Wish he could've done more with that one.
Sloppy, but effective.
Ben Bishop allowed 2 goals on 32 shots for the victory. Ultimately, I thought he was the big differences in the game, as Vancouver got a rather pedestrian effort from Lack at the other end.
0:53 TB Stamkos (4), (Palat)
7:15 VAN Higgins (1), (Bonino, Edler)
8:26 TB Stamkos (5), (Callahan, Palat)
2:42 VAN Edler (1), (D. Sedin, Bieksa)(PP)
16:48 TB Callahan (3), (Stamkos, Garrison)(PP)
6:04 TB Killorn (2), (Johnson, Stralman)
On the surface, a 4-2 win in Vancouver looks sweet as sugar, but anyone who watched the game or looks deeper in the stats can see the Lightning's play was closer to another word that starts with the letter "s". They got away with playing pond hockey in the First Period and spending most of the Second Period in the box because they've got an elite goaltender (thank goodness). Out of necessity, with Hedman out with an upper body injury and only 5 defensemen, I thought they settled into a more efficient game in the Third Period, but fatigue and Vancouver's urgency tilted the ice in the Canucks' favor where, again, Bishop had to be on his game. That effort tonight might get you points in places like Calgary and Edmonton later in this trip, but if they put that on the ice against a team like Minnesota, they're going to get blown out.
With Hedman's injury, with the big Swede out for at least the rest of this trip, it's my sincere hope that A.) Radko Gudas gets back in the lineup quickly, and B.) Cooper starts to dress 7 D playing both Gudas and Barberio to thin out the ice time, and C.) If he does so, Connolly gets out of the lineup. I've watched Cooper bench an AHL MVP, Cory Conacher, for taking too many minor penalties and hurting his team. I've watched him bench Alex Killorn, one of his best rookies, for the same thing. Connolly is becoming maddening in that respect, and it's because he's got a bad habit of not moving his feet. He's a half step out of the play too often and that means he's reaching. And, when you're reaching, you're taking penalties. The offensive zone penalty he took tonight in the Third Period took a Lightning team that was playing fairly under control with a lead and scrambled them for the rest of the final frame. Unacceptable. When Jonathan Drouin comes back from Syracuse, I know whose spot in the lineup he needs to take, and it's not old man Brendan Morrow's. Morrow had 5 hits tonight, including 1 that saved a goal, and drew a penalty. Given the choice between getting that 10 minutes from Morrow or the 10 minutes the Lightning got from Connolly, sign me up for Team Brendan. Seriously, that's what Connolly puts out in front of the home province? That?
Vladislav Namestnikov had 1 shot and was 60% on draws in 8:30. In a tight game against a team that has a fair number of talented veterans, Coach Cooper seemed to be hiding his kid line a bit. Can't say I blame him entirely.