The Tampa Bay Lightning deserved to lose this game. They didn’t respect their opponents, the New York Islanders, to start the game, fell down three goals on five shots within the first five minutes, and struggled to score on Barry Trotz’s defensive-minded playing style for the next 55 minutes.
This game was really boring and I wish I was able to get my time back for it. I‘ll be completely honest with you. Midway through the second period, I put the game on a split screen on my laptop and started watching Formula 1 race videos from 2017 because the game was putting me to sleep.
No matter how fancy and creative the Lightning got, they could not open up any lanes against a team with a three-goal lead who didn’t need to play offense. It was poor tactics (or execution of tactics) and finally it cost the team.
The lightning needed to lose that game. They can coast 40-50 minutes and pull tricks out of their ass and expect to win. If they would have won I actually would have been mad. Can’t get comfortable coasting and half assing games.
Long trip to Dallas to figure it out.
— christine (@ChristineLRM) January 14, 2019
20 seconds into the game, Erik Cernak took an unfortunate high-sticking call, and Brock Nelson of the Islanders took advantage with the extra man and scored. From behind the net, Jordan Eberle found Nelson cutting through the slot. Ryan McDonagh tried to cut down the angle, but he was too far away to cut down the and interrupt the shot. Mathew Barzal got the secondary assist. He did a good job of drawing Tampa’s penalty killers towards him, opening up the right side for Nelson.
Coach Jon Cooper was furious with the second goal, as he should have been. The Lightning simply got out-worked. Braydon Coburn got embarrassed on a puck battle with Casey Cizikas along the boards, then Matt Martin took the puck in the slot and gave Cal Clutterbuck a gimme in front of the net. Mikhail Sergachev, being the only Bolt in the right position, did what he could, but had no help. Coburn was slow to regain coverage on someone, anyone, and Ondrej Palat just didn’t bother to skate to the net.
16 seconds later, Devon Toews threw a muffin from the corner of the point just as Victor Hedman and another Islanders player cut across the shooting lane. Whether Vasilevskiy was distracted by the skaters in front of him or not, this was a really really bad goal for him to give up. Suddenly, within five minutes, the Bolts had given up three goals on five shots, including one to DEVON FREAKING TOEWS!
The first period was terrible. The Lightning only got five shots in the period, two of which on the power play, and only one of those being a decent scoring chance (thanks, Brayden Point). The forwards didn’t start the period on time. The defense didn’t start the period on time. And Vasy didn’t start the period on time. There’s really no excuse for play like this and I hope it gets snuffed out in the months leading up to the playoffs.
Less than a minute after the opening face-off, Hedman ran into the referee and came away very dazed. He went straight to the locker room and did not return for the rest of the evening. If things couldn’t get worse…
OH COME ON! The FOURTH LINE got their second goal of the night. This time it was Cizikas from Martin and Johnny Boychuk [almost said Zach, lol]. Both Point and Nikita Kucherov, I think, were responsible for this goal against. Point was covering Cizikas on the right side of the ice, but when the Islanders forward loops around to go down the middle, Point let him go. Kucherov was on the left side, saw Cizikas walking down the slot wide open, and did nothing to get in the way.
I’ve come to expect this from Kucherov sometimes, he’s not a perfect player by any means, but from Brayden Point? This ain’t like him. I know he’s only 22, but he’s a three-year NHL pro. The training wheels that protect kids from plays like that should be gone by now.
Finally. Steven Stamkos went down the middle on a rush, but got cut off at the offensive blueline. He circled back and found McDonagh trying to jump up in the rush. It looked like the rest of the team was going off on a change, so McDonagh just threw the puck on net from the area between the top of the faceoff circles and… scored! The puck trickled through Thomas Greiss’ five-hole and into the back of the net.
The Lightning definitely deserved the goal to end the second. They out-attempted the Islanders 28-17, out-shot them 17-14, and out-chanced their opponents 10-7 in that period. It’s a shame no one was bothering to play defense for the first 40 minutes, otherwise the score would be much closer.
The Lightning gained some momentum on the shot clock midway through the second period and into the third.
10 minutes into the final frame, Jon Cooper pulled Andrei Vasilevskiy for an extra attacker, putting his top units on the ice for an offensive-zone draw. Stamkos got a good chance on the 6-on-5 shift, but failed to get it by Greiss.
As the play went on, Cooper called for one of his skaters to come to the bench and he threw Vasilevskiy back on the ice on the fly! I’ve seen Benoit Groulx try this in the AHL once or twice, but never have I seen a play like that in the NHL. I guess when you’re a top team trailing on a Sunday night, you’re more willing to just try shit. Why not, right?
The Lightning tried to mount another comeback with about six minutes left, but Barry Trotz set up all five skaters to clog up the slot and Greiss shut the door. Eventually, Josh Bailey got away for a break with the net empty and finished off the game.
After the Whistle
- Stamkos was the best player. He created lots of chances and was the one player I had faith in to turn the game around.
- I worry for the health of Victor Hedman. Thankfully, the Lightning will only have to play two more games before getting over a week off due to the Bye Week and All-Star break.
- Speaking of games before the break, their last opponent before the break will be the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Leafs embarrassed the Lightning the last time they played, despite the Bolts getting the win at the end of the day. If they show up with an attitude like what they showed in this game against the Maple Leafs, they will absolutely get laughed out of Amalie Arena. I hope that does not happen.