Tampa Bay Lightning
Despite their best efforts to give the game away, Lightning pull 2 points from Winnipeg.
Ben Bishop allowed 3 goals on 36 shots for the OT win. That was certainly not Bishop's best effort. He looked shaky positionally and his rebound control was a bit of a hot mess and his puckhandling gaffe on Winnipeg's third goal was obviously inexcusable. However, he made key stops after that, including the stop on Little in OT, to insure that the team eventually got the opportunity to win the game. The big prize that comes out of that is it looks like they can play the freshly recalled Kristers Gudlevskis against Chicago with a clear conscience and finally give Ben his first rest of the season. With Vasilevskiy cleared to practice, hopefully Andrei can be back in another, say, 3 weeks and Tampa Bay can get Ben back into a more sane workload.
12:17 TB Coburn (1), (Johnson)
16:28 WPG Ehlers (2), (Scheifele, Perreault)
7:22 TB Paquette (1), (Condra, Hedman)
10:58 WPG Stafford (3), (Lowry, Burmistrov)
11:19 TB Namestnikov (3), (Paquette, Hedman)
1:17 WPG Wheeler (4), (unassisted)(SH)
0:36 TB Palat (2), (Stamkos, Hedman)
I'm absolutely ecstatic the team got this win, for reason I'll expound upon further later on, but I'm absolutely furious about how incredibly stupid they look defending teams on the rush so far this season. I just don't get how a team can look this braindead in coverage. No team in the NHL right now is better at turning what should be a harmless 2-on-2 or 3-on-3 stalemate coming at them on the rush into an odd man break and digging the puck out of the back of their own net. The d-men have an awful case of the yips anytime a forward is bearing down on them with speed right now, and the forwards aren't helping in the slightest by applying precious little backchecking pressure to help support their defenseman. The resulting brain crampage in positioning and communication is just intolerable to watch, and at some point Jon Cooper's got to get more aggressive with his players to correct the issue. This team won't win anything but a dog show defending the way they are right now.
On the good side, Cooper may have found another hundred dollar bill on the ground today by way of Brian Boyle calling into work sick. The makeshift line of Vladislav Namestnikov, Cedric Paquette, and Eric Condra was, start-to-finish, the Lightning's most consistent and dominant line tonight. Namestnikov's been playing really well lately, so it wasn't that surprising to see him pump home a goal. Paquette and Condra have flashed individually this year but they haven't really found chemistry with any linemates to any great degree until tonight. That line's got a little bit of everything, and you could see them becoming a regular item if they have another game or two like tonight's. Namestnikov's and deft playmaker with some higher level puck handling acuity. Paquette and Condra have laser releases that are really surprising for lower line guys. And, all three of these guys are aggressive on the forecheck and the latter two in particular are strong at body positioning to win 50/50 pucks. This really could be found money for Jon Cooper, and the makings of a third really good line he can put on his goldenrod game plan in ink every night. Now he just needs to figure out what to do with Val Filppula...
As I noted, one of the big benefits of the win tonight is it means you can give Bishop the night off against the Blackhawks. Te reason for that is that the Lightning now have 11 points through 8 games, meaning they need just 1 more point out of the remainder of the road trip to hit their target for the first 10 game segment of the year. So, they'll likely send Gudlevskis out and hope he can steal at least a point, but even if he can't they'll have a rested Ben Bishop ready for St. Louis to close the trip in his home town to try and clinch a successful first 10 game segment of the year.
Ben Bishop allowed 4 goals on 33 shots and 1 of 3 shooters to convert for the SO Loss. I thought he was average, maybe even slightly subpar by his standards on the first goal, and that may have ultimately been the difference because Rinne was splendid at the other end even giving up 4 goals.
19:07 NSH Fisher (1), (Weber, Neal)
3:25 TB Stamkos (5), (Hedman, Filppula)(PP)
8:51 TB Kucherov (2), (Palat, Coburn)
10:29 NSH Weber (1), (Ribeiro, Wilson)
17:41 TB Callahan (3), (Hedman, Stralman)
18:55 NSH Neal (4), (Forsberg, Fisher)
5:24 TB Condra (2), (Boyle)
14:30 NSH Neal (5), (Forsberg)
Steven Stamkos was the game's third star.
I hate losing, but not so much that I can't admit that was a whale of a game and absolutely the kind of product the NHL needs to put out on the ice. That had the feeling of a heavyweight boxing match with each team trading goals like they were trading haymakers. Just when one team would get a big possession push and a good cycle, the other team would answer in kind. It was a really, really good game.
Lots of silver linings in the loss. The obvious is the Lightning put up 4 goals on that goaltender and that defensive corps in a night where Rinne was on his game. They would've scored 7 or 8 goals, I'm fairly certain, on a mortal goaltender. The other obvious one is that the special teams, which have been dreadful to this point of the season, were a strong point in this game. They got the tying goal on the PP from Stamkos to get it to 1-1 and they were fairly solid going 3-for-3 on the PK. That's no small task considering the bomb launchers Nashville has back on the points. That looked like a bad matchup going into the contest, but the Lightning held stout.
What they'll want back is the semi-soft first goal late in the opening period, the Carle turnover on the Weber goal, and Condra getting absolutely lost in coverage on the rush on Neal's second goal. Get back any one of those and you obviously get the second point.
Interesting twist to see a more tactical, possession-minded approach from Nashville in the 3-on-3 OT. They held the puck for a minute, it seemed like, on the cycle in the Lightning zone and I give credit to Stamkos and Hedman for not dropping dead from exhaustion covering that much ice. Nashville didn't get an A chance out of that much possession and that much ice, which is pretty remarkable. I'd expect to see the Lightning start to install that kind of cycle to wear out the opposing defenders in the 3-on-3 in the future. It was definitely much different than the jailbreak odd man rush fest in the first OT game of the season, and was much closer in resemblance to real hockey, to boot.
Bishop is the truth.
Ben Bishop. 1 goal on 32 shots. Multiple key saves with high degrees of difficulty. He took the Lightning on his back tonight, and allowed them to survive a very subpar effort with their #1 defenseman, Hedman, out of the lineup. He was absolutely impressive, and one of the things I really love about Ben is he pretty much never has two poor games in a row. He was subpar against Dallas. Wipe the slate clean. He was a superstar tonight.
2:52 BUF Reinhart (1), (Ennis)
13:41 TB Namestnikov (2), (unassisted)
16:03 TB Killorn (1), (Johnson, Palat)(PP)
Alex Killorn and Bishop were the game's first and second stars.
A win's a win, but mercy was that an ugly win. Tampa Bay was outshot 32-22 and probably outchanced by a similar margin by a Buffalo team that is still pretty wet behind the ears. Part of it is almost certainly from losing their number one defenseman, Hedman, but it's still an unacceptable effort. They struggled to get out of their own end all game long, and when they did get out they looked pretty disjointed in the offensive zone. It was so bad that Cooper broke up the Triplets and the Stamkos line and pretty much benched Jonathan Drouin for most of the Third Period after he hot dogged it on a power play in the latter half of the Second Period. I expect Jon Cooper to strip several coats of paint off the walls in that video session once they chop up this debacle.
Fortunately, the did get the two points, and it's a very important two points as the team tries to stay on schedule in the first ten game segment of the year. These first couple of segments are very critical to help fight through any ECF hangover from last season. They need 4 points in the final 4 games of this segment to make it good.
Slater Koekkoek was -1 with 1 hit and 1 blocked shot in 10:21. He was partly culpable for the Sabres' goal, although the lion's share of the blame should go Filppula's way. Putting that play aside, though, you had to really like what you saw tonight. Koekkoek was very active at both ends of the rink, and at times was doing a Hedman Lite routine with more physical edge. Salary cap and waiver eligibility issues are the only things keeping him off the Lightning roster right now, in my opinion, and I truly believe he'll be in Tampa full time after the trade deadline, at the latest.
Lightning reminded about the importance of details.
Ben Bishop allowed 5 goals on 22 shots for the loss. He got outplayed by Lehtonen at the other end and he ultimately denied his team a chance to win this game. His poor rebound on Dallas' first goal allowed them to turn the momentum early in the game and the softie on the 5th goal killed any chance the Lightning had of completing the comeback.
2:24 TB Stamkos (3), (Drouin)
8:58 DAL Seguin (1), (Jokipakka, Benn)
14:14 DAL Benn (3), (Spezza, Seguin)(PP)
9:34 DAL Eakin (3), (Janmark, Sceviour)
18:12 DAL Demers (1), (Eakin, Hemsky)(PP)
7:06 TB Namestnikov (1), (Stamkos)
8:44 TB Stamkos (4), (Drouin, Boyle)
10:29 DAL Spezza (4), (Hemsky, Goligoski)
Steven Stamkos was the game's second star.
By all of the advanced metrics you want to put to this game, the Lightning dominated. Possession. Chances. Shots. They were all over Dallas. But, hockey's a cruel sport when you don't mind the details. Subpar goaltending will kill you. Poor defensive coverage against the rush will kill you. Special teams will kill you. The Lightning could have, and maybe should have slain Dallas in this game, but they allowed those three areas to completely undermine any possibility of getting a win tonight. Bishop will rebound, so I'm not overly worried about the goaltending. And, the defensive zone coverage against the rush is correctable by a quality coaching staff. It's the penalty kill that is incredibly worrisome right now. It has cratered to 2013-2014 levels through 5 games.
If there's a silver lining, it's that Drouin/Stamkos is turning out to be everything we envisioned it would be at Bolt Prospects. For everyone who criticized the editorial position of the website last season that Drouin needed to be playing with Stamkos, and for everyone else foolish enough to try to label Drouin a bust, the proof's in the pudding through 5 games. Right now they're the undisputed top line of the team and the Triplets are swimming in their jet fumes trying to keep up. Once the Triplets do start to get on track from a production standpoint, have mercy on the NHL.
Nikita Nesterov was -1 with 15 penalty minutes, 1 shot, and 1 hit in 11:57. His major and game misconduct for boarding in the Second Period was deserved, and he will likely be suspended. Coupled with a likely concussion suffered by Hedman, expect one or two defensive callups from Syracuse. Nesterov's penalty, frankly, put the nail in the Lightning coffin tonight. As bad as their PK was playing, giving Dallas a 5 minute opportunity to build the 3 goal lead just before the Second Intermission was just too much for the Lightning to overcome. And, once again, it was made plain just how hard it is to overcome a 3 goal deficit in the final frame in pro hockey. It's just a death sentence when you're trying to come from that far down.
Road weary Lightning fade in 3rd game in 4 nights.
Ben Bishop allowed 2 goals on 23 shots for the loss. He was screened/was dealing with traffic on both goals he allowed.
17:52 DET Nyquist (1), (Kronwall, Zetterberg)(PP)
8:25 DET Zetterberg (2), (Larkin, Quincey)
11:03 TB Callahan (2), (Drouin, Stralman)
18:12 DET Quincey (1), (Miller, Richards)(EN)
Jonathan Drouin was the game's third star.
The Lightning really ran out of gas for much of the final two periods of the game. Playing their 3rd game in 4 days, they had very little push until they were chasing the game down 2-0. It didn't help that Detroit played the game like it was their Stanley Cup Final.
Nikita Nesterov was -1 with 2 shots and 2 hits in 17:19.
Podolsk 1 vs. Khanty-Mansiysk 0
Nikita Gusev, Khanty-Mansiysk, 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM, 5 SOG
Season totals: 20 GP, 6-6-12, +6, 4 PIM
Nikita Gusev was scoreless in 16:51 in Yugra's 1-0 loss to Podolsk. Podolsk goaltender Harri Sateri, an ex-Sharks pick, stopped all 39 shots he faced for the shutout.
Novgorod 2 vs. Dinamo Minsk 1
Carter Ashton, Novgorod, 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM, 3 SOG
Season totals: 14 GP, 3-0-3, -3, 10 PIM
Carter Ashton was scoreless in 17:36 in Novgorod's 2-1 win over Minsk. Vladimir Galuzin notched the winning goal for Novgorod.
Lightning overcome slow start to destroy Bruins.
Ben Bishop allowed 3 goals on 30 shots for the victory. He benefited from the fact that, at the other end, Tuukka Rask was pretty darned awful today.
2:59 BOS Krejci (2), (Krug, Bergeron)(PP)
11:02 BOS Eriksson (1), (Krug, Krejci)(PP)
15:42 TB Boyle (1), (Hedman, Namestnikov)
16:51 TB Palat (1), (Johnson, Stralman)(PP)
4:48 TB Boyle (2), (unassisted)
12:20 BOS Eriksson (2), (Krejci, Krug)(PP)
15:17 TB Stamkos (2), (Stralman, Johnson)(PP)
5:38 TB Drouin (1), (Condra, Hedman)
15:58 TB Filppula (1), (Killorn, Brown)
Brian Boyle was the game's first star. Only in Boston could a team get smoked 6-3 and still get 2 out of 3 star selections. Arrogance, thy name is Boston.
Speaking of arrogance, you get the feeling that the Lightning learned so much in last season's playoff run they've gotten to that elite level where they have the confidence to just toy with opponents. Regular season hockey might be child's play to this team, especially given how few roster changes there were to the Lightning. They came out flat and looked like they were going to get run off the ice down 2-0, and then ended up making it look easy as they cruised most of the rest of the way. I don't want to overstate it, because Rask really did allow two soft goals, but this Lightning team looks so much more deep and talented than the rest of the league they don't have to be perfect to kill you. Even better, it really looks like this Lightning team will be even better than last year's because they look like they'll have two elite scoring lines, four balanced lines overall, and a better power play. The latter was 2-for-4 today and you could see it coming on in the last contest.
The obvious nitpick is the penalty kill, which hasn't been sharp thus far this year. 1-for-4 on the PK is not sustainable.
When you play a matinee in Boston, I consider a day where your star player doesn't break his leg and the refs don't make some horribly controversial call against the Lightning a win. Getting two points was just gravy. My only regret was I didn't get to hear the NESN crew shriek in agony that their mighty Bruins (who missed the playoffs last year) could possibly get destroyed at home by the terrible Tampa Bay Lightning (who were Eastern Conference champs). I can hear the excuses from here.
In any event, after improving to 3-0-0, the Lightning have 6 points and are already halfway to the 10-game segment goal. The team is putting itself into good position to possibly build up a nice stock of insurance points right from the word jump, which is great considering some sort of Stanley Cup Final hangover would've been understandable.
Lightning rock solid in their first road game of the season.
Ben Bishop allowed 1 goal on 25 shots for the victory. He didn't have to face nearly the quality of chances he did in the opener against Philly and was solid on the ones he did.
8:14 TB Condra (1), (Hedman, Filppula)
13:55 BUF Deslauriers (1), (Reinhart, Gorges)
19:34 TB Kucherov (1), (Johnson, Stralman)
8:53 TB Stamkos (1), (Callahan)
12:41 TB Brown (1), (Garrison, Coburn)
That's just a top-to-bottom solid effort by the Lightning. I thought Johnson was solid in his own right for Buffalo in net, but after weathering an early push by Buffalo in the First Period the Lightning depth and quality showed up. They got a goal from every single line and after allowing 11 shots in the First Period, they surrendered just 14 the rest of the way. Buffalo should feel fortunate it wasn't worse for them. The Lightning were 0-for-4 on the PP, but were getting the looks they wanted. This could've been a 6-1 or 7-1 win pretty easily, in my opinion.
If I had a nitpick, it would be that the Lightning were only 41% on draws today, and only 38% through the first couple of periods. You can make an argument the Lightning lost the Stanley Cup Final in the faceoff circles after Tyler Johnson broke his wrist, giving Chicago an avenue to artificially generate zone time and scoring chances they weren't otherwise getting in the run of play. That aspect of Tampa Bay's game has to improve over the course of the year.
Entertaining finish to new season's beginning.
Ben Bishop allowed 2 goals on 25 shots for the win. Thought he deserved a star, considering he turned aside two PS attempts including one by Claude Giroux where he got deked badly but deftly lifted Giroux's stick to deny the chance. He made the saves he needed to in order to allow his team to get the win.
1:25 TB Garrison (1), (Callahan, Drouin)
10:14 PHI Read (1), (Laughton, Umberger)(PP)
12:03 PHI B. Schenn (1), (Umberger, Medvedev)(PP)
18:22 TB Callahan (1), (Hedman, Drouin)(PP)
2:17 TB Garrison (2), (Killorn, Filppula)
It was a strange game with a strange feel throughout, and maybe that's to be expected when you raise a banner. I felt like the Lightning were clearly the superior team athletically and on a skill level, but the energy level was uneven and they seemed a little out of sync on their passing and puck handling most of the night. We should be happy they cobbled together two greasy goals to get to the wild OT and win it, the biggest being Callahan's PP goal, which is underrated in importance. The 3-on-3 OT, for what it's worth, is basically QMJHL line rushes, with occasional whistles. Mason made a handful of amazing saves to keep the Flyers alive, countered by one ten bell variety by Bishop, before Garrison tucked home the winner. The whole play was made by Filppula, sans hockey stick, winning a board battle and kicking a breakout pass to Killorn to start the rush. Fantastic play.
For the Lightning, keeping focus and effort is going to be the challenge to start the year. It's psychologically difficult to get fully invested in an 82 game grind again when you finish 2 wins from a championship just a few months prior. It's got to happen, though. They've got to buckle down and get their minimum 12 points every 10 games and get back on the ladder to the playoffs, understanding they can't win the Stanley Cup in October, but they can damned sure lose it if they are flat and fall behind in the standings.
No prospects in the lineup? Really? What sort of witchcraft is this?
God still hates Panthers fans in the preseason, too.
Ben Bishop allowed 2 goals on 34 shots for the loss. That's what an elite goaltender does. If he gives up 2 in the First Period, he doesn't panic. He puts it on lockdown and gives his team an opportunity to comeback and win the game. I have a feeling Bishop's going to have an even better season this year than last season.
12:47 FLA MacKenzie (1), (Howden, Petrovic)
18:47 FLA Bjugstad (1), (Campbell, Pirri)(PP)
14:34 TB Palat (1), (Boyle, Hedman)
16:12 TB Boyle (1), (Condra, Drouin)
17:58 TB Drouin (1), (Nesterov, Stralman)
The Lightning haven't quite gotten the offense fully clicking, but you see the impressive array of weapons they have up and down the lineup and Drouin looks like he's going to take the league by storm this year. As things continue down the stretch to the regular season, the Lightning proved to themselves tonight they can come back on the road against a world class goaltender in Roberto Luongo. That's a nice psychological edge for the team to have in their back pockets.
Mike Angelidis was -1 with 2 penalty minutes and 5 hits in 9:40.
Nikita Nesterov had a helper and was +2 with 1 shot on goal, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 15:54. Uncommonly low shot attempt total (1) from the Chelyabinsk Chain Gun tonight.