I actually thought tonight was a huge improvement over the Toronto game.
Antero Niittymaki allowed 3 goals on 29 shots for the overtime loss. I thought it was another quality start. I feel like he should clearly be the starter at this stage.
TB 3:03, Tanguay 2 (Halpern, Downie)(PP)
OTT 5:02, Alfredsson 6 (Spezza, Michalek)
OTT 12:00, Fisher 6 (Kovalev, Spezza)(PP)
TB 13:40, Stamkos 12 (St. Louis, Lecavalier)(PP)
OTT 4:17, Spezza 1 (Kuba, Fisher)(PP)
The offense is still lacking in continuity and not generating as many chances and as much forecheck as you might want, but the defensive effort was light years better than against Toronto.
Steve Downie had an assist, 17 penalty minutes, and 1 blocked shot in 8:45. Downie is now 7 games shy of graduating from prospect status here on Bolt Prospects.
Zenon Konopka had 1 hit, 2 blocked shots, and was 80% on draws in 8:51.
James Wright had 2 hits and was 50% on draws in 13:50.
Victor Hedman had 2 blocked shots in 15:17 before leaving the game after getting hit by Ottawa's Chris Neil. The way he grabbed his head, I'm a little worried it's a concussion.
Ugly, but I'll take it, I suppose.
Antero Niittymaki allowed 1 goal on 41 shots for the victory. I honestly don't know why there isn't a goaltending controversy at this point.
TB 18:34, Lecavalier 2 (Ohlund)
TOR 5:04, White 3 (Hagman, Beauchemin)(PP)
TB 2:21, Malone 9 (Tanguay)
It's lucky that A.) Nittymaki stood on his head again, and B.) Toronto is just awful enough to lose games like this even when they deserve to win. Allowing 41 shots to a team like the Leafs is a joke. Maybe the momentum and mojo the team will get from winning an overtime game will help them in the confidence department, but this is still a terrible Lightning team on the road.
Steve Downie was +1 with 2 hits in 11:44.
Drew Miller only played 4:09 in the game.
Zenon Konopka had 1 hit and was 75% on draws in 4:52.
James Wright played 13:25.
Victor Hedman was +2 with 1 shot, 1 hit, and 4 blocked shots in 25:46. He also had 4 PIMs, though.
Niitty steals a point, and the Lightning shooters continue to make fools of themselves in the shootout.
Antero Niittymaki was lights out tonight, stopping 37 of 38 before going 3 for 4 in the shootout session for the shootout loss. He deserved a lot better from the guys in front of him.
NJ 0:50, Zajac 6 (Fraser)
TB 4:34, Stamkos 10 (St. Louis, Malone)
The Lightning absolutely sleepwalked through the first two periods of the game, with the exception perhaps of the final five minutes of the first period. It was terrible. Shots were 28-9 after 40 minutes, for New Jersey. Without Nittymaki, this game would have easily been a blowout. I don't get the inconsistency from this Lightning team from game to game, period to period, and situation to situation. And as far as the shootouts go, if I were Tocchet I'd ban dekes from the star players. Tell them to shoot. At least force the goaltenders to make a save.
Steve Downie had 5 penalty minutes, 1 shot, and 4 hits in 11:08.
Drew Miller was -1 in 8:51.
Zenon Konopka had 2 penalty minutes, 3 hits, and was 50% on draws in 11:04.
James Wright had 2 penalty minutes and 1 hit in 14:20.
Victor Hedman was -1 with 1 hit and 1 blocked shot in 26:24. I'm going to reiterate my request from the last game: I'd like to see him get more shots, particularly on the power play. They need to get him off this pass-first mentality. The scouting report from the Swedish Elitserien is that Victor possesses a world class one-timer. Nothing else is working on the PP (an ugly 0-for-3 tonight). Try a different weapon.
Payback. Revenge. Gettin' even.
Mike Smith allowed 2 goals on 23 shots for the win.
TB 7:20, Stamkos 8 (Lecavalier, St. Louis)(PP)
TB 4:34, Fedoruk 2 (Hale, Downie)
TB 14:48, Malone 8 (Hale, Tanguay)
TB 7:09, Stamkos 9 (Lecavalier, Malone)(PP)
TB 9:29, Tanguay 1 (Malone, Stamkos)
OTT 10:17, Ruutu 4 (Kelly, Donovan)
OTT 14:19, Kovalev 4 (Alfredsson, Lee)
For the Lightning to crush Ottawa a little over a week after the Senators absolutely embarassed the Lightning 7-1 is a tremendous psychological victory, and the fact they physically outcompeted Ottawa right to the final whistle makes the win that much powerful. A game like this gives the Lightning big mo'. And Alex Tanguay breaks the snide in his first night on the Stamkos line. Beautiful. And, if the early verdict is true and this line continues to be productive, that frees Marty St. Louis up to stay on Vincent Lecavalier's line, and you know eventually those two will click together.
Steve Downie had an assist and was +1 with 7 penalty minutes and 1 hit in 12:04. He was strong on the puck. He was agitating as could be. He even beat up a bigger man in Jarkko Ruutu. Simply put, it might have been Downie's best game in a Lightning uniform (I'll overlook that first period turnover ten feet inside the Ottawa blueline). I wonder if he might get another shot in Wright's spot on Lecavalier and St. Louis' line at some point.
Drew Miller was -1 in 11:47. It's bizarre how clean his stat lines are.
Zenon Konopka was +1 with 5 penalty minutes, 1 shot, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 8:55. His stat lines tend to be the antithesis of Miller's. He was also 63% on draws.
James Wright was -2 in 10:07. Congratulations on sticking with the team, kiddo.
Victor Hedman had 2 penalty minutes, 2 shots, and 2 blocked shots in 23:53. My current wishes for Hedman: work on keeping the puck in at the point on the PP, and I would like to see the Lightning encourage Hedman to shoot more on the PP. The man possesses a howitzer, but he's been deferring to the vets. Opposing PK's are adjusting to that. Hedman needs to stop being strictly a pass-first player.
That's another point the Lightning left out on the ice this year.
Mike Smith allowed 2 goals on 32 shots, but one of those was a softie with time running out that cost the Lightning a point in the standings. After demolishing a water bottle, Smith stopped the 1 shot he faced in overtime and stopped 5 of 6 he faced in the shootout, but the damage was already done.
TB 19:59, Lecavalier 1 (Wright, St. Louis)
BUF 19:14, Grier 3 (Kennedy)
TB 4:26, Stamkos 7 (unassisted)
BUF 19:43, Stafford 3 (Roy, Rivet)
The Lightning are sitting at 3-3-3 for their record right now, but if they had actually finished off this game and the one against New Jersey they could easily be 5-3-1. The thing is, they dominated this game for much of the contest. It shouldn't have been a one goal game at the end of regulation anyway. And you can't blame Smitty for what happened in the shootout tonight. I can't fathom how Lecavalier, Stamkos, St. Louis, and Tanguay all failed in the shootout. That's uncanny, and frustrating.
Steve Downie had 1 hit in 10:43.
Drew Miller was -1 with 1 shot in 12:08.
Zenon Konopka had 2 hits and was 86% on draws in 7:34.
James Wright had a helper and was +1 with 2 shots and 3 blocked shots in 17:05. He's spent considerably less time on the deck the past two games than he did in the previous seven. Now it's decision time for the Lightning, but it seems obvious they'll keep Wright in Tampa rather than sending him back to junior. The key will be for the team to get him on the same in-season weight training program Stamkos was on last season so he doesn't burn out around the midway point of the year.
Victor Hedman had 2 shots, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 28:19. I thought he was off tonight. As good as he was against San Jose, he played a little too soft for my taste tonight and his giveaway obviously led to Buffalo's opening goal. Of course, had he hit the top corner on his chance in overtime, I might not be typing this at all.
The Lightning get right... very right.
Mike Smith allowed 2 goals on 34 shots for the win. Smitty has fully rebounded from his terrible outing against Ottawa.
TB 0:30, Wright 1 (St. Louis, Lecavalier)
TB 15:01, Malone 7 (Hale, Downie)
SJ 12:34, Vesce 3 (Huskins, Demers)
TB 16:39, Stamkos 5 (unassisted)
TB 2:54, Meszaros 2 (Fedoruk, Veilleux)
SJ 13:41, Boyle 2 (Thornton, Marleau)(PP)
TB 19:41, Stamkos 6 (Tanguay)(EN)
The Lightning finally got the first goal of a game for the first time of the season and they defeated a San Jose team that absolutely dismantled the Rangers within the last week. Short of Lecavalier and/or Tanguay getting their first goals of the season, this game resolved many of the problems the Lightning were having after getting pasted twice against the Senators and Penguins.
Steve Downie had an assist and was +1 in 13:35 in his debut on the Stamkos line. This might be a better fit for Downie with Stammer being a pure, shoot-first player and Downie being allowed to play more the playmaking role he's comfortable with.
Drew Miller had 1 shot in 14:05.
Zenon Konopka was +1 with 2 hits on 9:45.
James Wright, the funoodle, had his first NHL goal and was +1 with 2 shots in 15:18.
Victor Hedman was +2 with 1 shot, 2 hits, and 3 blocked shots in 24:03. That was maybe his best defensive game thus far of the season.
Lightning spend half a game on the PK.
Antero Niittymaki allowed 4 goals on 33 shots for his first loss.
PIT 4:57, Guerin 3 (Malkin, Goligoski)(PP)
PIT 17:10, Gonchar 2 (Orpik, Crosby)
TB 6:18, Stamkos 4 (St. Louis, Lecavalier)(PP)
PIT 8:15, Dupuis 1 (Gonchar, Fedotenko)
PIT 11:21, Rupp 2 (Crosby)
Steve Downie was -1 with 1 shot and 3 hits in 14:47.
Drew Miller had 2 penalty minutes, 1 shot, and 1 hit in 10:36.
Zenon Konopka was -1 with 2 penalty minutes and 2 hits in 6:42.
James Wright had 2 penalty minutes, 2 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 13:00.
Victor Hedman was -1 with 2 penalty minutes, 1 shot, and 1 hit in 23:15.
Niitty thieves two points from PantherNation.
Antero Niittymaki had a world beating 31 saves on 33 shots, including several breakaways and other outstanding post to post saves. He even had an assist. The book on Nitty is that he's a streaky goaltender, and when he's hot like this you ride him 'til the wheels fall off. I doubt we see Smitty next time out.
FLA 8:10, Dvorak 1 (Kreps)(SH)
TB 18:32, Stamkos 3 (St. Louis, Lecavalier)(PP)
FLA 6:33, Horton 1 (Weiss, Kulikov)(PP)
TB 7:17, St. Louis 3 (Lecavalier, Hedman)(PP)
TB 13:29, Malone 5 (Stamkos, Niittymaki)
The Lightning, frankly, played their worst hockey since the Atlanta game. The difference was that they got great goaltending and they were a little bit tighter in the neutral zone than they were against the Thrashers. Good teams find a way to win when they don't play their best hockey. That said, the Lightning ought not make a steady diet of giving up breakaways at key junctures of games.
Steve Downie had 3 shots and 3 hits in 12:37 and keeps drawing penalties from the opposition right and left.
Drew Miller had 1 shot and 2 hits in 11:38.
Zenon Konopka had 1 shot and 2 hits in 9:34 as the fourth line's ice time crept up by about four minutes in this game. They are fun to watch.
James Wright had 1 shot in 11:26.
Victor Hedman rebounded from an earlier shorthanded giveaway that ended up in the back of his net to have an assist, 2 penalty minutes, 3 shots, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 24:30. The hilarious thing is that 24:30 seems like a light night for Hedman in the ice time department.
The Lightning victimized by bad fortune despite playing an excellent game.
Mike Smith stopped 31 of 34 before going 0 for 2 in the shootout session for the shootout loss. He can't seem to stop much in the shootout, and the Lightning skaters can't seem to score in the shootout to save their lives.
NJ 4:46, Parise 1 (Zajac, Martin)(PP)
TB 9:49, Stamkos 1 (St. Louis, Hedman)
NJ 18:09, Pandolfo 1 (Clarkson, Niedermayer)
TB 1:52, Stamkos 2 (St. Louis, Lecavalier)(PP)
TB 5:41, Fedoruk 1 (Hedman, Ohlund)
NJ 19:59, Zajac 2 (Rolston, Parise)
NJ- Parise, Langenbruner
The Lightning played fairly passive hockey for the first 22 minutes but really turned it on and played some dynamite hockey for most of the last two periods, eventually outshooting New Jersey 44-34. But, one or two little details like a bad clear by Paul Ranger and the Lightning ended up getting robbed of a second point. It's demoralizing. This is where the team's veteran leadership needs to stand up and hold it all together.
Steve Downie was +1 with 1 shot and 1 hit in 10:16. On balance, I thought he was great, particularly on a shift late in the third period where Konopka almost got a key insurance goal.
Drew Miller had 3 shots and 3 blocked shots in 17:04. His best game in a Lightning uniform.
Zenon Konopka was +1 with 5 penalty minutes, 2 shots, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot and was 71% on draws. Konopka's becoming a guilty pleasure for me.
James Wright had 2 penalty minutes and 2 hits in 12:37. I love his effort, positioning, and skating. I love that he sticks his nose in. But, if you breath on him, he goes down. He's just not strong enough to really compete at this level.
Victor Hedman = MANchild. He had 2 assists and was +2 with 2 penalty minutes and 3 shots in 26:38. His offensive instincts were grossly underrated by the pundits. His ability to see the ice is just fantastic. He got the Lightning the go-ahead goal on a brilliant rush with speed and then an even more brilliant cross-ice pass to Fedoruk. Breathtaking. Some people were saying he'd top out at 40-45 points a season. Those figures need to be revised. He looks more like a 55-60 point a year guy once he gets a little more seasoning. Between Hedman and Stamkos, the Lightning are in ridiculously good shape for the future.
Good road point. God I hate shootouts.
Mike Smith allowed just 1 goal on 28 shots before giving up 2 of 3 in the shootout for the shootout loss.
CAR 13:12, Jokinen 1 (Pitkanen, Ward)(PP)
TB 6:00, Malone 1 (Stamkos, St. Louis)(PP)
CAR- Samsonov, Ruutu
There were a lot of things to be happy about with this game. They were much tighter defensively and had a much more even effort throughout the game. This was supposed to be a "hornet's nest" the Lightning were walking into and they managed to carry the play 5-on-5, for the most part. My only nitpick remains the Lightning's play in the physical game. They got outhit 42-25 tonight by Carolina. That can't be what Rick Tocchet has in mind. I want to see guys like Vincent Lecavalier, Andrej Meszaros, and Paul Ranger start to take the body a little more.
We'll have to see what becomes of Matias Ohlund's injury that took him off the ice in the third period.
Steve Downie had 2 shots and 3 hits in 12:17.
Drew Miller had 2 shots and 2 hits in 17:32.
Zenon Konopka had 5 penalty minutes and 3 hits in 3:23. That's efficiency.
James Wright had 1 shot and 2 hits in 13:25.
Victor Hedman had 2 penalty minutes and 2 blocked shots in a team high 24:16.