NHL Game Night: 3-31-10 Lightning at Penguins

You explain it. I sure can't.

TB-2
PIT-0

Mike Smith had a 27 save shutout for the victory. He was strong in tight and the Lightning did a very good job at limited the east-west chances and odd-man rushes that Smitty struggles with.

First Period
TB 17:00, Stamkos 46 (St. Louis, Foster)(PP)

Second Period
TB 0:29, Downie 22 (St. Louis, Stamkos)

Third Period
NO SCORING

I don't get it. I don't get how you lose to Columbus one night, and then handle the defending champs easily the next. This wasn't like the Bruins game where the Lightning were outshot 3:1. The Lightning were very much under control defensively in tonight's game and they dutifully capitalized on the few chances they had. Was it trying to send a message on national TV? Trying to show out for Steven Stamkos' Richard Trophy race? The Pens announcers suggested they were playing for Tocchet's job. I'm not sure that's true one night after you choke against the Blue Jackets. Whatever it was, I enjoyed it.

Kudos to Mike Lundin (29:48) and Mattias Ohlund (27:07) for picking up the ice time with only 4 true NHL d-men in uniform and one of the minor leaguers getting thrown out in his first shift. Whoever ends up being GM, they need to re-sign Lundin expeditiously before July 1st. Even if he doesn't improve an iota over what he is right now, which seems unlikely, he's a solid, mobile, 20 minute a night ice time eater.

Steve Downie is now just 4 points shy of 50 of the season. Fun with numbers: since the turn of the year when he started taking on more of a scoring line role, Downie has 14 goals, 29 points, and 112 penalty minutes in 36 games. That pro-rates to 32 goals, 66 points, and 255 PIMs over an 82 game season. So he's got a chance to be a 30 goal and 70 point player next season, and possibly more. If Downie ratcheted up the discipline a bit more and trimmed his PIMs down to, say, a 150 PIM pace, how many more points would he have with an extra 50-60 minutes worth of total ice time? For Downie, that'd be like tacking another 3-4 games onto his season in which to hit the scoresheet.

Steven Stamkos is 1 goal back in the Richard Trophy race. I'd have killed for him to tie Crosby with an EN goal at the end.

Zenon Konopka still leads the PIM King chase. There's another guy who needs to be re-signed before July 1st.

Matt Lashoff was like Tom Berringer in that awful Sniper movie: one shift, one kill. 15 penalty minutes in 49 seconds after boarding ex-Lightning Rusty Fedotenko. The knock on Lashoff has been twofold: that he's soft and he's mildly stupid in his own end positionally. I'm thinking he was a little overeager to answer the first critique.

Vladimir Mihalik had 1 hit and 1 blocked shot in 12:18. He looked fairly poised and confident at times tonight, which is likely a byproduct of playing with countryman Andrej Meszaros. The good news with Vladdy is that his skating hasn't been as much of an issue as I thought it might be. The bad news is that NHL competition has highlighted the fact that even though Vladdy is big, he's not strong. He needs to build his upper body strength to compete better along the wall.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.