It’s not that difficult to understand what’s going on with this Lightning group right now. After another lackluster effort, this time against the Carolina Hurricanes, the Bolts find themselves in the unenviable position of having to decide whether or not to be ‘buyers’ or ‘sellers’ at the trade deadline. With about a month and a half to go before the pivotal date, Steve Yzerman has some tough decisions to make. Tonight’s blog will have a short game re-cap for the ‘Canes tilt combined with a long-ish rant on the state of the union.
As I said, tonight’s game re-cap will be short. Why, you ask? It was a downright, dismal display of hockey from the Lightning tonight. I don’t need to give you a ‘Good, Bad, Ugly’ analysis as I believe we would all come up with the same conclusions. It’s pretty tough to have a unique perspective when everything is so obviously terrible.
Was it just me, or did it look like the entire first period was played in the Lightning zone? Sure Thompson scored for the Bolts, but it’s not very often that a road team scores four goals in the opening frame. What happened to coming out with energy and desperation on home ice? It’s tough to really look at that period and take away anything positive. Kubina looked downright dreadful on both of the opening goals and continued his less than stellar play all night long. When one of the “top” defensemen on a roster plays that poorly, it’s not a good night. Both Kubina and Vinny Lecavalier finished the night with a minus three rating. Typically I don’t like to put too much emphasis on this stat, but tonight it was pretty indicative of the play.
Please forgive me for this, but really and truly there’s not a lot to say about this game. Mathieu Garon was pulled; Roloson came in and was generally solid. That said, we can’t expect a back-up to come in and salvage the game each and every single night. As I’ve said before, we need a goaltender that can play. Steve Yzerman has come out and said that he doesn’t expect any big moves this season. While I’m fine with that, he has to be ready to make big changes going forward. Tonight’s game was just another example of the infinite number of deficiencies plaguing the Lightning right now.
The Lightning have got to come out with more urgency against “weaker” opponents like the Hurricanes. I put quotations around the word weaker because it’s getting to a point where we really can’t call anyone weaker. The Lightning are playing as badly as any other team in the league right now. The comparable team in the West would be the Edmonton Oilers. At least the Oilers have a very stable future mapped out with a lot of great, young pieces in all positions.
Now, 0-4-1 in their last 5 games, the Lightning may as well pack it in. That kind of performance is simply unacceptable. Even as a rebuilding team, one win in 5 games should be a given.
Through the halfway point in the season, fans have a pretty clear picture of what is wrong with this team. We have deficiencies in net that are unmatched throughout the NHL. We have a defense that would make a lot of minor league D cores look like all-stars (even Norfolk’s….). We have forward depth that would make a kiddy pool seem like an enormous crater in the earth. Even more than that, we have a player base that seems content with losing. There isn’t any consistency when it comes to heart, drive and determination.
After last season’s dreamlike success, expectations here in Tampa shot through the roof. Most fans, including myself, thought that our Bolts were a lock for the post-season this year. Now, it would seem as though last season more of a fluke than anything else.
Last season, what this team lacked in depth, it made up for in determination and hope. Those feelings have all but disappeared. It’s a terrible feeling when you go into a game expecting a loss. That’s not the mark of a good team. Good teams find ways to win. On too many occasions this season, the Bolts have found ways to lose. It concerns me to no end.
I respect Steve Yzerman as a person, General Manager and hockey mind. There are no doubts in my mind that he will be able to straighten this mess out. He will continue to build the prospect pool, sign key free agents and just make good decisions. That said, please come out and tell fans that this season is a write-off.
On a completely unrelated note, Mike Cammalleri was traded from Montreal to Calgary tonight. Calgary sent Rene Bourque along with some minor pieces in exchange for Camo, Ramo and a draft pick. My first reaction to that trade was, really? That’s what it would have taken to get Cammalleri?
Pierre LeBrun of ESPN had this to say on Twitter:
“One NHL GM when told of the trade, said he wished he knew Cammalleri was available. Would have made an offer.”
I can’t help but wonder if that GM was Steve Yzerman. Malone for Cammalleri? I would do that deal any day of the week. Of course, I’m only speculating; but it would be nice to know. A few weeks back I had some discussions with a Habs fan about the prospect of us acquiring Cammalleri. It’s funny how things end up working out.
Anyways, thanks for reading this rather one sided, slanted rant about the Lightning and where we stand right now. I apologize if my frustration is starting to show through. I needed tonight’s blog to just get it all out! Thanks for putting up with that.
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