Third jersey + old logo + black pants + celebration stripes = shutout win.
Mathieu Garon stopped all 21 he faced for the shutout victory. That'll buy him another week or two in the first chair of Maestro Boucher's hockey orchestra.
TB Kubina (1), (Stamkos, Purcell), 4:51
TB St Louis (3), (Lecavalier, Connolly), 8:30
TB Hedman (2), (St Louis)(EN), 18:33
So the Lightning get back to the .500 mark at 3-3-2 after about 3 weeks of wandering in the wilderness, and they do so against a good Buffalo team that's currently leading their division. They've left themselves a little bit of a hole in the division, now 6 points back of the still unbeaten Caps with Washington holding 1 game in hand, but at least now they look like they're heading in the right direction.
Brett Connolly had an assist and was +1 with a team high 7 shots on goal and 1 hit. He played 13:06 in the game, and I suspect he's sliding a DVD of this game under Steve Yzerman's office door some time around 11 pm tonight with a Post-It note that says "Respectfully, I deserve to stay in the NHL," on it.
Blair Jones had 2 penalty minutes and 1 shot in 11:12.
Finally, the real Tampa Bay Lightning show up to play.
Mathieu Garon allowed 1 goal on 17 shots for the victory. He didn't have a lot of work, but he made one or two key saves at key times in the game.
TB Malone (2), (Lecavalier, Bergeron)(PP), 16:32
TB Lecavalier (3), (St. Louis), 15:14
TB Stamkos (3), (Purcell), 5:25
NYI Grabner (2), (Streit, Rolston), 7:55
TB Clark (2), (Purcell), 16:59
That was Lightning hockey, and the improvement started with Eric Brewer, who was questionable to even make it to the game. He's been subpar all season long, but he made better plays tonight and everything flowed from there. Some of the credit for that, I think, should go to Matt Gilroy, who played 17:15 and is starting to take some of the load that was an injured Mattias Ohlund's off of Brewer and Hedman's shoulders. He's starting to look plenty dangerous in the offensive third, too. I'm beginning to think Brewer, in particular, has a ceiling of ice time he can't go above and be effective, so it's essential other d-men like Gilroy step up until Ohlund returns.
Up front, the full energy effort from all four lines was finally there. It had been improving in each of the past couple of games, and tonight it finally came together. The forecheck was Lightning caliber, and that's how you keep a team down to a 30-17 shot disparity and you build a 3 goal lead in the final frame.
Brett Connolly was +1 with 2 penalty minutes, 1 shot, and 2 hits in 16:12. He's getting better along the wall and around the cage in every single game, and he's a viper of a playmaker with the puck on his stick. Tonight was his 7th NHL game, 2 shy of that magical 9th game when the decision on whether or not to send him back to junior needs to be made. Honestly, and folks know I'm not King Brett Connolly booster, I'm starting to lean toward keeping him in the NHL. He's doing things along the wall I didn't think he was capable or willing to do. The skill level was never the question for me. The question was whether he'd be a passenger on the forecheck, and in the past few games he's been anything but.
Blair Jones had 3 shots and 1 blocked shot in 10:31. He was inserted in the lineup to provide energy and that's just what he did. His skill level isn't terribly high and he's not pretty to look at, but he works his bag off, and that's infectious.
Penalties and soft goals kill a good effort.
FLA Kopecky (1), (Jovanovski, Campbell)(PP), 6:15
TB Purcell (2), (Shannon, Bergeron)(PP), 9:22
TB Hedman (1), (Hall, Thompson), 14:00
FLA Weiss (2), (Kulikov, Campbell)(PP), 17:12
FLA Versteeg (2), (Weiss, Campbell), 2:35
FLA Bergenheim (1), (unassisted)(SH), 12:17
TB Lecavalier (2), (Bergeron, Gilroy), 16:21
FLA Versteeg (3), (Fleischmann, Weiss)(PP), 0:25
TB Stamkos (2), (Gilroy, Bergeron), 10:53
FLA Weiss (3), (Versteeg, Jovanovski), 15:28
FLA Garrison (2), (Campbell, Versteeg)(PP), 16:47
Marc-Andre Bergeron was the game's third star.
It's tough. I though the want-to level was there tonight, but mistakes, penalties, and poor goaltending led to the team not getting the result. The key is for the effort level to stay high while the mistakes, penalties, and poor goaltending get resolved.
Brett Connolly had 2 shots, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 11:56. I thought he had his best game as an NHLer thus far on the forecheck.
Mattias Ritola had 1 shot and 2 penalty minutes in 10:32. The guy looks due to get on the scoresheet, to me.
1-2-2 on the opening road trip. Home cooking, please.
Mathieu Garon stopped 36 of 38 before allowing 1 of 3 shooters to convert in the penalty shot session for the shootout loss. He was outstanding tonight. He stood on his head for much of the first 40-50 minutes of the game while the Lightning finally figured out how to compete a bit.
FLA Jovanovski (1), (Kopecky, Booth)(PP), 11:48
TB Bergeron (1), (Moore), 9:43
FLA Versteeg (1), (Kulikov, Campbell), 17:05
TB Bergeron (2), (Kubina, St. Louis), 17:44
Marc-Andre Bergeron was the second star of the game and supplied one of the first real "oh hell yes" moments of the season, hulking up at the right point and banging his stick before finally receiving the setup for a game tying cannon.
The team still got outshot 38-30, but you saw signs in this game that the compete level and the pride level is coming back. Credit to Steve Downie for having the guts to fight a much bigger man in Eric Gudbranson, a fight he should've gotten killed in, and for holding his own. Credit to guys like Tom Pyatt and Mattias Ritola and Blair Jones for hustling, and digging, and taking the body. They started to show some pride tonight, and it was infectious. All of a sudden, the top line guys broke out of their stupor and started playing a bit like top line guys in the final frame. It feels like the flood gates may open in the home debut in the new blue unis.
It seems like this team lost some of its identity over the offseason with Sean Bergenheim departing and Dana Tyrell not making the team and breaking up the Hall/Thompson/Tyrell line. It's taking some time for the team to re-find its footing and its work ethic, but the first baby steps look like they might've happened tonight.
Brett Connolly had 2 shots and 4 hits in 11:10 tonight. I liked that he was around the net and he actually didn't look out of place along the wall. More games like that, even if he's not as creative and dangerous, will keep him in the league, in my opinion.
Mattias Ritola had 2 shots, 3 hits, and 1 penalty minute in 13:05. I'm really liking how Ritola looks so far this year. He was rusty in his first game, but he's been noticable in puck pursuit in every game since and he had everything right but the finish tonight on a partial breakaway.
Blair Jones had 3 hits in 6:18. The young man was absolutely crushing Panthers tonight. #49 is Guy Boucher's V8 powered snow plow out there.
At what point are these guys going to feel embarrassed?
NYI Tavares (1), (unassisted), 0:36
TB Stamkos (1), (Bergeron), 7:10
NYI Moulson (1), (Tavares, Eaton), 9:28
NYI Tavares (2), (Moulson, Parenteau), 15:15
NYI Parenteau (1), (Tavares), 18:39
NYI Grabner (1), (Okposo), 6:47
Let me put this in very simple terms: in the last 3 games the Lightning have allowed 14 goals, and if you take Tomas Vokoun's softies out of the equation, they've only scored 4. They should have been -10 over the past 3 games, and that's terrible no matter how you slice it.
You would think they would've shown more pride than to allow the team that they fought tooth and nail to 7 games in the Eastern Conference Finals to steamroll them in Boston. Nah. Their division nemesis who they battled in the playoffs and that has tormented them over the past 3-4 seasons? Nah. No pride displayed in either of those games. No forecheck. No focus. No attention to detail.
Having one of the best coaches in the league I wouldn't have expected that kind of effort in back-to-back games, and I damned sure wouldn't have expected it in 3 straight games. But, 36 seconds in, the Lightning started the cycle all over again, and this time they do it against a perennial bottom feeder in the Islanders. Seriously, other than Downie, Ritola, Moore, and maybe one or two others, did anyone else on the team mentally show up for the first 30 minutes?
Will they feel embarrassed now? I don't know. If I were GM, I'm not sure I'd wait for the team to decide to play focused, determined hockey. There are players like Carter Ashton and Tyler Johnson who already are playing focused, determined hockey in the minors. Why on earth they should be working for pennies on the dollar behind guys who should be -10 the past 3 games and have been stealing money from the organization. The complacency and the arrogance have to stop now.
Brett Connolly was +1 with 3 shots and 1 blocked shot in 14:41. To finish a plus in a game you get clobbered 5-1 isn't shabby.
Mattias Ritola was -2 with 2 penalty minutes, 8 shots, and 1 hit in 15:11. The +/- is ugly, but the effort he made on the forecheck and in the offensive third wasn't. I was impressed with how he played. If only a few more players on the team cared about more than their image.
Didn't even deserve a point.
WSH 6 (SO)
Dwayne Roloson allowed 5 goals on 43 shots before he allowed 2 of 3 shooters to convert for the shootout loss. Honestly, though, without Roli the Lightning lose 10-5 in this game as terrible as they played.
TB Purcell (1), (Gervais), 2:22
WSH Johansson (1), (Alzner), 4:49
TB Gervais (1), (Bergeron, Downie), 8:35
WSH Wideman (1), (Halpern, Perrault), 16:50
TB Moore (1), (Shannon, Connolly), 00:56
WSH Brouwer (1), (Schultz, Johansson), 3:42
WSH Chimera (1), (Laich, Ward), 4:00
TB Thompson (1), (Clark, Moore), 7:42
TB Clark (1), (Malone, Purcell), 12:56
WSH Chimera (2), (unassisted), 17:16
WSH- Hendricks, Semin
Dominic Moore was the game's third star. Probably a bit tongue and cheek by the Washington media considering he assisted on Chimera's tying goal with a terrible clear attempt. That was the last of a rash of bad turnovers the likes of which I haven't seen in a while. Veterans were doing it: Moore (2), Kubina (2), St. Louis (1). Rookies were doing it: Connolly (2). It was awful. And, when you couple that with the Lightning simply not winning puck battles, you get a game where the Lightning were outshot 43-28. Were it not for Tomas Vokoun being positively horrible on three soft goals, they'd have had no shot.
Brett Connolly had his first NHL point on an assist and was +1 with 1 hit in 12:46. The stat line may be good, but the game film was terrible. He had two bad turnovers, he was soft along the wall, and he just wasn't as offensively dynamic as he was against the Bruins. That's the kind of tape that gets you demoted.
Mattias Ritola had 1 shot in 6:36, and he was largely ineffective.
Not quite ready for prime time, yet.
Mathieu Garon allowed 4 goals on 42 shots for the loss. I thought he kept the Lightning alive in the game longer than they probably deserved. The winning goal was a little weak, but he only got 1 goal of support.
BOS Peverley (1), (Marchand, Boychuk), 2:04
TB St. Louis (2), (Malone, Lecavalier), 3:20
BOS Paille (1), (McQuaid, Seguin), 4:58
BOS Krejci (1), (Lucic, Seguin), 3:07
BOS Peverley (2), (Bergeron, Marchand), 8:43
The shot board says it all: Boston 42, Tampa Bay 26. The Lightning looked stiff and slow. They were poor in puck pursuit and on the odd occasion they were in position to compete for a loose puck they lost battles. Hopefully, this kind of result makes the Lightning realize their energy level must be higher. No one's going to concede wins to this team, and certainly not the defending champs.
Brett Connolly had 4 penalty minutes, 2 shots, and 2 hits in 15:38. It was a mixed bag tonight. The young man has world class vision when he has the puck. He had a few slick setups tonight and almost snuck a goal past Tim Thomas five-hole for a score in the first period. On the other side of the coin, he was caught reaching in puck pursuit a couple of times and was thrown in the sin bin accordingly. Body positioning and knowing when to move your feet to stay in the play to be able to compete for the puck are things he needs to learn. When you're a stick length behind a guy and reaching, it's an obvious call for the ref to make.
Box score from yahoo.com.
The 2011-2012 regular season begins just as the 2010-2011 regular season ended. Tears for Hurricanes fans.
Dwayne Roloson made 32 saves for the victory. He took care of business.
CAR Skinner,(1)(Gleason, Ruutu), 8:07
TB St. Louis, (1)(Stamkos), 5:19
TB Lecavalier, (1)(Stamkos, St. Louis), 17:50 (PP)
TB Downie, (1)(Bergeron, Shannon), 12:22 (PP)
TB Hall, (1)(Thompson, Jones), 12:32
TB Malone, (1)(Purcell, Brewer), 16:58
That's how an elite team handles its business on opening night. Carolina has a young team with a lot of enthusiasm and they came out hard in the first period, and the Lightning just stomped the living daylights out of them in the final 40 minutes. That's what contenders do to borderline, mediocre teams.
Beautiful hand-eye coordination by Vincent Lecavalier on his power play goal. Stammer-esque, dare we say?
You have to love how just about everyone on the team got to drink from the well of prosperity in this one. When you get not just the top guys, but also the second tier of guys like Malone and Shannon and you even get the 4th liners some cookies too, that's how you build confidence up and down the lineup.
The despair of the Hurricane's announcing duo is still a sweet melody to my ears. Get ready for 81 more like that, boys.
Brett Connolly had 2 penalty minutes and 1 hit in 14:20 in his NHL debut.
Blair Jones, who is the human victory cigar at Bolt Prospects, had a helper, 2 shots, and was +1 in 9:04. We're throwing a parade when he graduates from prospect status later this season. It's almost like a child's high school graduation for us, because sometimes it seems like we've been covering him for 17-18 years.
(Week ending October 2)
This season Bolt Prospects introduced our Prospect of the Week award. The award is (virtually) given to one Tampa Bay Lightning prospect for their on-ice contributions. There are no trophies or plaques or chocolate coins involved, but weâ€™re fairly certain this will carry heavy weight among players in the global hockey community (we were able to find a picture of him with a trophy, however. Pretend it's from us.). Quite simply, we wanted to highlight prospects throughout the year to help fans get better acquainted with the next round of Lightning stars while recognizing the prospectâ€™s achievement on the ice.
This weekâ€™s BP Prospect of the Week award goes to â€¦ Brett Connolly, Tampa Bay Lightning.
Lightning looking strong for the start of the season, but still room for improvement.
Dwayne Roloson stopped all 24 shots he faced. He looks sharp. Ready to go.
TB 9:15 Stamkos, (Gervais)
TB 11:51 Stamkos, (St. Louis, Gilroy)
TB 16:43 Connolly, (St. Louis, Kubina)
TB 18:49, Connolly, (Malone)
The game could've been a 6-0 final. Vincent Lecavalier had a soft goal by Peter Budaj taken off the board by a quick whistle and another play by Tom Pyatt that was likely a goal wasn't counted. Overall, it was a very strong effort by the forwards and goaltenders, but there's room for improvement on the backline. They looked a little sloppy in their own end turning the puck over on breakouts and there was a 10 minute period at the end of the first period they were living dangerously within the first 10 feet of their blueline in the Lightning zone. That's got to get cleaned up. The Canadiens hit a few posts tonight and Roloson was sharp. That won't always be the case, though. Boucher has things to harp about on this game tape.
The question of what to do with Brett Connolly is an interesting one. Bob McKenzie is saying he's likely to start the season with the Lightning and at least get a regular season audition, and it's hard to argue with that because he keeps scoring. That said, he doesn't pass the eyeball test, to me, when it comes to having NHL strength on the puck. I will say this, though, if he doesn't stick in Tampa this year he'll probably the Calder Trophy favorite going into next season.
The rest of the bubble forwards had a tougher time of it, in my opinion. Pyatt got a goal waved off so he was probably the best of the rest. Dana Tyrell skated really well but had some turnovers and stubbed his toe in some situations where he could've been more dangerous offensively. Blair Jones' slow first step really stood out in this game where there was a lot of flow. He hits everything that moves, and he's an honest player, but he looked like a SUV on a street full of sports cars tonight.
Mattias Ritola looks to be in and Connolly may get his NHL regular season audition and Pyatt is probably going to make it. Tyrell and Jones may not make it to the finish line, though.
Box score from NHL.com.