NHL Game Night: 12-23-09 Flyers at Lightning

The final score wasn't indicative of how the Lightning played.

PHI-5
TB-2

Mike Smith allowed 4 goals on 35 shots in the loss. I wasn't a big fan of the rebounds he was leaving in the first period, nor the Flyers' second goal which went through Smitty. He got stronger as the game went on, though. His stats look a lot worse than he played.

First Period
PHI 3:59, Betts 2 (Carcillo, Laperriere)
PHI 9:34, Richards 14 (Gagne, Pronger)(PP)

Second Period
TB 5:58, Konopka 1 (Downie)
TB 12:02, Hedman 3 (Foster, St. Louis)

Third Period
PHI 10:01, Betts 3 (Bartulis, Laperriere)
PHI 17:22, Richards 15 (Giroux, Bartulis)
PHI 19:26, Gagne 2 (Giroux, Richards)(EN)

The Lightning woke up after sleep walking through the first period and really, truly, started dominating the Flyers to get back to 2-2 after the second period. The problem is that in pressing for the go-ahead goal the Lightning got too loose in the neutral zone and started giving up odd man rushes. That eventually led to the go ahead goal at 3-2. They pressed for the equalizer and gave up a 2-on-1 and then it was 4-2. Philly tacked on an empty net goal and it was 5-2. What's the moral of the story? Attention to detail in terms of defense and smart decision making is always necessary, even when the ice starts to tilt in your favor and you're going in for the kill. It only takes one mistake to set off a chain reaction, and suddenly a game you could've won 4-2 turns into a 5-2 loss.

All that aside, I see hopeful signs for the future. You can see the potential some of these young guys have: Downie, Smaby, Szczechura, and Jones. If they keep working hard and the Lightning stick with them, they have a good chance to become really solid NHLers over the next couple of seasons. It's an exciting group to watch.

Steven Stamkos had 1 shot on goal, and 5 that missed the net. Keep shooting it brother. Vincent Lecavalier was shut out despite peppering the Flyers net with 7 shots. Keep shooting it. Martin St. Louis had 4 shots on goal and 2 that drew iron that didn't count. Keep shooting it. Alex Tanguay and Steve Downie each had a shot a piece and each passed up scoring chances. Start shooting it, knuckleheads. If I see one more 2-on-1 that turns into a 4-on-4 because those two decide to stop and circle back or telegraph a forced pass rather than at least force the goalie to make a save and open up the possibility to generate a rebound, I may have to break an expensive TV. Downie, in particular, has a really good shot. He just needs to use it more.

Zenon Konopka had a goal and was +1 with 2 penalty minutes, 2 shots, and 1 hit in 8:25. He was also 67% on draws. Question for the readers: is it just me or does the swelling on the bridge of Konopka's nose make it look like he's wearing a Breath Right?

Paul Szczechura was -2 with 1 shot and 1 blocked shot in 14:18.

Blair Jones was -1 with 1 shot and 4 hits in 13:11. He's very rough around the edges, and doesn't always mind the details defensively, but he's been an absolute horse along the wall in the forecheck. If he keeps working hard and listens to a guy like Rick Tocchet, who knows a little something about being a power forward, he really has a shot to be a good player.

Victor Hedman had a goal on a blistering shot to the top shelf and was +1 with 3 shots and 3 blocked shots in 22:22. It was an uneven performance defensively for Hedman, but that goal is Echibit A for why Victor should shoot the puck more. He's got the second best shot of any d-man on the team behind Foster.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.