So who would have thought that the second Marty St. Louis gets injured, the Lightning win a game? Show of hands? Well safe to say that I wasn’t expecting the result we got tonight. The game was an interesting display of emotion from two teams with high expectations on them. Lots of penalties and a different game than I was expecting.
After 5 straight losses, the Lightning were desperate. They needed a win in the worst way as the pressure was really starting to mount. This roster is much more talented than the record shows right now and there is no doubt in my mind that beating a good team like the Rangers should go a long way in bolstering the confidence of this fragile group.
Unfortunately, tonight’s game wasn’t all roses for the Lightning. As mentioned above, St. Louis did not play tonight ending his current streak 499 consecutive games played. You’ve got to feel for the guy; he’s given so much to this franchise and the sport in general. Young, smaller guys look up to him in a big way. Hopefully he makes a quick and full recovery so that the Bolts can get him back into the line-up.
The injury report doesn’t sound good as St. Louis is on his way back to Tampa for further evaluation. Nasal and facial fractures are never good. That being said, there are few players as tough as Marty in the game and I do hope that he will be able to get back sooner rather than later.
Another streak ended tonight and that was Stamkos’ point streak. He failed to register a point tonight for the first time in 8 games. There’s no doubt the guy has the talent so we should be seeing points from him again soon. No need to panic here; just thought it was worth noting.
As far as the actual game goes, here are some notes:
- Eric Brewer had a really strong night tonight. I know I harp on him a lot, but he really did impress me tonight. He was sound defensively, moved the puck well and was a calming presence for the rest of the D-men. He did this while playing over 27 minutes. At some point, Boucher is going to need to manage his ice time better because he will be dog tired by the time the playoffs roll around.
- Victor Hedman also played a TON tonight. For a young D-man, 29 minutes is somewhat ridiculous. That just speaks to the issues with depth that this team has right now. Ohlund’s value is really being highlighted at this point. Can Yzerman make something happen so that we don’t have to ride these guys into the ground? McCabe is still out there….All that aside, Hedman too played a strong game tonight.
- It was nice to see Dominic Moore and Ryan Malone score tonight. More so with Malone, but the team needs these guys to score going forward. The team has a lot of front end talent but there is no substitute for offensive depth. Hopefully this can be a spring board for both these guys going forward.
- On the Rangers shorthanded goal there was some pretty puck movement going on. Also, there was a lot of bad luck. Had Connolly not been hit with the shot we could have seen a different outcome. You’re going to get bounces like that over the season and the old adage is that they all balance out.
- That game had a lot of penalties (and I’m not talking about the whole Anisimov incident, we’ll get there in a second). Not sure that the refs ever put the whistle down. It sounded more like we watching the National Geographic Bird special than a hockey game. The flow at that point was really disrupted. Maybe I’m somewhat of a traditionalist, but some of the calls were a little soft.
- Anisimov’s antics after scoring his goal were a little childish. It’s funny, when Ovechkin did his whole burning hot stick routine, I didn’t have a problem with it. Why? He wasn’t targeting the opposition, and it was his 50th goal of the season. So, Anisimov, who scored is fifth of the season, thinks he can get away with that? Come on and grow up. That was just down right disrespectful. I liked the response the Lightning gave, especially Vinny. Nice to see him jump in there right away. He may not be the toughest guy, but man does he have heart.
- In the end it was Garon who got the last laugh in the game as he stopped Gaborik in the shootout. This was a huge win for the team and he really stepped up in circus time.
Up next the Lightning end the 4 game trip in Philadelphia with a chance to wind up .500. After the losses in Ottawa and New York, fans would be pretty happy with that result. However, the room for improvement is massive going forward and there will be no shortage of things for the team to work on and monitor.
My biggest concerns going forward are the blue-line ice time management and the goaltending. Both of those things could come back to bite the Lightning down the stretch. Going forward, I’d like to see the team take a little more of a proactive approach to these situations and deal with them before they rear their ugly heads.
Thanks for reading and have a good night.
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