I know about six veterans players on this team who skated with their heads up their butts in this game.
Mike Smith allowed 2 goals on 25 shots in the loss.
01:21 TB St. Louis (6), (Lecavalier, Malone)
12:21 Kessel (14), (Savard, Lucic)
08:17 BOS Krejci (8), (Wheeler)(SH)
19:59 BOS Kessel (15), (Savard, Hunwick)(EN)
It is an indictment of the veterans on this club that in the third period of a tight game the one glowing shift of any line was by Smolenak/Szczechura/Downie. I'm seeing veterans have mental lapses that you would expect come from the rookies, and I'm seeing millionaires consistently lose races to loose pucks that these rookies who are making near league minimum are legging out. It's a lack of focus. It's a lack of attention to detail. It's mental and physical laziness, and it's unacceptable.
Rick Tocchet, do you want to send a message to your team about accountability? I know you played with Mark Recchi, and I imagine you're buddies. Heck, you're probably one of the guys who talked him into coming to Tampa. I know this isn't easy, and that's the reason you have to do it: Recchi's got to sit. He's absolutely, positively got to sit. It's not just the one mistake shorthanded but it's a string of about three or four weak plays in the neutral zone or just inside the opposing blueline that would get any one of the kids you have up from the AHL right now a plane ticket straight back to Norfolk. It's a leadership moment. Pull the trigger. Recchi's got to sit. You want to be an NHL coach? He's got to be in the pressbox for the next game.
All that unpleasantness aside, we can turn to the quality play of four out of five of the prospects the Lightning had in this game, headlined by young Steve Downie who might've had his best game in a Lightning jersey. He set up Smolenak for a partial breakaway in the second period and then was returned the favor in the third by Smaby in a rush where he ended up toppling the goaltender over. More than that, here is a young player who understands that you have to hustle to loose pucks on the forecheck (novel concept, I know). And you know, for a smallish guy, he's surprisingly strong on the puck. He definitely played above his weightclass tonight along the wall.
Radek Smolenak hit a crossbar in the first period and got a partial breakaway in the second period where he didn't quite have the speed to pull away and get a shot off. On the crossbar shot, Smolenak once again showed he has a wicked quick release and an NHL caliber shot. He can snap it off, no doubt. On the breakway, you saw that he is a quarter step slow and he does need to still work on his skating.
Paul Szczechura, at the very least, bailed Mike Smith out in the third period on a puckhandling gaffe that would've been in the back of the net were it not by a timely backcheck from the young center. He continues to play very smart positionally and make the correct, simple play. It's a shame some of the vets on this team are too busy counting their money to follow suit.
Finally, Matt Smaby, who was called up yesterday, recovered from a slow tentative first period to really make an impact in the second period. When he finally stopped tip toeing around and started mixing it up physically, the big defenseman started to get into the speed and flow of the game and his decision making starter to catch up with the NHL pace. He didn't see a whole lot of ice time in a tight third period, due in part to an unforced error on a bad decision with the puck in his own end that prolonged Boston's zone time on a shift early in the frame. But, I don't think he looked out of his depth at all, and I think he gave Tocchet something he's looking for: a defenseman who will lay the wood to oncoming forwards.
Steve Downie had 3 shots and 2 hits in 11:34.
Matt Smaby had 5 hits and 2 blocked shots in 11:33.
Paul Szczechura had 3 shots, 1 blocked shot, and was 40% on draws in 11:45.
Radek Smolenak had 1 hit and 1 blocked shot in 11:01.
Steven Stamkos was -1 with 2 shots and 1 hit in 15:17. He was also 17% on draws. I thought he took a step backward tonight. I'd like to see an energy guy like Downie get some more shifts with him, because that seemed to trigger some things in the Flyers game.
Wow. Radek Smolenak.
Mike Smith allowed 4 goals on 32 shots for the loss.
02:58 PHI Carter (17), (Timonen, Lupul)(PP)
11:50 TB Recchi (6), (Jokinen, Prospal)(PP)
00:36 PHI Richards (9), (unassisted)(SH)
04:36 PHI Carter (18), (Hartnell, Lupul)(PP)
04:57 TB Prospal (5), (St. Louis, Eminger)(PP)
15:25 TB Downie (1), (Smolenak, Stamkos)
02:05 PHI Richards (10), (Timonen, Carter)(PP)
Steve Downie was named the third star of the game. He was the the fourth most impressive prospect the Lightning had in the game, to me, but ok. I get it. He's a former Flyer.
I was really impressed with the two callups, particularly Smolenak. I wish there had been more 5-on-5 play in the game so he could have played more. I really liked the energy he had on a line with Artyukhin before R2 got nicked on a boarding major from Scotty Upshall in the first period. Obviously, you can see the flaw in Smolenak's game: he's not a speed merchant. But, you know, there was no fear in the young man. Sometimes these callups get into these games and they act like they're afraid to get a puckmark on their tape because maybe NHL tape is expensive, or something. Not Smolenak. First shift he gets the puck down low and makes a power move to get a shot off from the angle. Third or fourth shift he fights Aaron Asham. Third period he's out there battling down low again and getting off a hard shot from the angle to try to tie up the game. And he gets rewarded with the assist on the tying goal as one of his long slappers generates a rebound for Downie to send the game to OT. That's probably the best NHL debut we've seen from a player since Paul Ranger came up a few games into 2005-2006. Honestly, if he keeps playing like that, one of these old fogies is out of a job.
Paul Szczechura, very quietly, played some big minutes in this game both at even strength and on the penalty kill. And, you know, that's high praise if you're an NHL rookie in your first game and the coach puts you out there on the PK. It shows the kind of intelligence Szczechura has, and I'm not surprised Tocchet instantly started leaning on the young man. He's just one of those guys who is a coach's dream. I don't think his scoring really projects to the NHL level, and you can see he's still maybe a quarter step slow, but he can outthink 95% of the players he's going up against, and that means he'll have a solid NHL career.
Bottom line, the Norfolk kids did good tonight, and I loved the energy the new blood brought to the table. And, you know, there's other kids down there knocking on the door like Brandon Segal,Matt Smaby, and Blair Jones. I think it's time to get some of the AARP members out of Tampa and mix some youth and enthusiasm into the team, especially on the forward lines.
Steve Downie had 1 goal and was +1 with 4 penalty minutes, 2 shots, and 2 hits in 10:43.
Paul Szczechura had 3 shots and was 30% on draws in 15:16.
Radek Smolenak had an assist and was +1 with a fighting major, and a game high 6 shots on goal in 9:45. And he gets a gold star from me.
Steven Stamkos had 1 assist, 4 shots, and was 60% on draws in 16:47.
Lightning can't climb out of a three goal first period hole.
15:20 COL Leopold (4), (Svatos)(PP)
17:21 COL Wolski (3), (Svatos, Arnason)
18:57 COL Wolski (4), (Arnason, Svatos)
12:17 TB Lecavalier (10), (Ranger, Malone)
03:42 COL Jones (2), (McCormick, Clark)
09:19 TB Malone (7), (Eminger, Stamkos)(PP)
15:31 TB Stamkos (3), (Lecavalier, Eminger)(PP)
Obviously Ryan Malone and Steven Stamkos have started to come around in recent games, but keep an eye on Steve Eminger. The former high Capitals pick is finally starting to live up to his considerable offensive potential.
It may not come together in time to save this team's playoff ambitions, but we're starting to see some components of this team's future start to come together, both in Tampa and in Norfolk where there are a handful of players starting to get in line to make a move to the next level. Losses aside, I'm starting to get excited about some of the new foundation that is getting laid down.
Steve Downie had a fight and a blocked shot in 7:39.
Stamkos had 1 goal and 1 assist and was -1 with 2 shots and 1 hit in 21:42. He was also 50% on draws.
Nik Backstrom owns the Lightning.
Mike Smith allowed 3 goals on 32 shots in the loss.
12:07 MIN Nolan (3), (Miettinen, Sheppard)
19:20 TB Vrbata (3), (Stamkos, Ranger)(PP)
09:51 TB Malone (6), (Lecavalier)
02:01 MIN Sheppard (2), (Bergeron, Zidlicky)
06:10 MIN Koivu (6), (Miettinen, Bergeron)
19:37 MIN Belanger (6), (unassisted)
The Lightning had their chance to tie late on a 5-on-3 opportunity, but Nik Backstrom slammed the door.
Steve Downie had 2 shots, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 6:05 in his Lightning debut.
Steven Stamkos had an assist and was -2 with 3 shots and 2 hits in a career high 20:32 of ice time. He also was 33% on draws.
Anybody know what the NHL record is for combined overtime and shootout losses since the penalty shot session was instituted after the lockout?
Mike Smith allowed 2 goals on 35 shots before going 0-for-2 in the shootout to take yet another shootout loss.
02:40 NYR Naslund (8), (Rozsival, Zherdev)
04:09 TB Malone (5), (Lecavalier, Eminger)(PP)
17:57 NYR Naslund (9), (Rozsival, Zherdev)(PP)
19:10 TB Recchi (5), (St. Louis, Meszaros)
NYR- Naslund, Zherdev
I remain amazed that a team with Vincent Lecavalier, Martin St. Louis, and Jussi Jokinen on the roster is this incredibly bad in the shootout. Still, the team has to be thankful to get a late goal from the timeless Mark Recchi to claim a point for their efforts tonight.
Steven Stamkos had 1 shot and 3 hits and was 17% on draws in 16:06. He also got in a fight with Nikolai Zherdev. You fill in the punch line.
That was so ugly, they might want to burn the new alternate jerseys.
01:44 NJ Rupp, (Salmela, Clarkson)
17:37 NJ Parise (13), (Leach, Salmela)
01:58 NJ Zubrus (3), (Langenbrunner, Paul Martin)
04:34 NJ Zubrus (4), (Elias, White)
11:39 NJ Gionta (6), (unassisted)
13:08 TB Vrbata (2), (Prospal, Craig)
14:40 TB St. Louis (5), (Lecavalier)
16:42 TB Malone (4), (unassisted)(PS)
07:21 NJ Zubrus (5), (Elias)
14:38 NJ Zubrus (6), (Gionta, Elias)
Zubrus would be a Hall of Famer if all you looked at were his games against the Lightning.
The Lightning were outshot 45-29 in the game.
Steven Stamkos was -1 in 13:58 with 1 shot, 1 hit, and was 50% on draws.
Mike Smith allowed 1 goal on 35 shots for the win. Just don't ask him to win a shootout for you, and he's good to go.
04:57 TB Lecavalier (8), (Malone, Stamkos)(PP)
07:05 TB Lecavalier (9), (St. Louis)
10:40 NSH Tootoo (3), (Zanon)
12:17 TB Recchi (4), (Malik, Malone)
06:32 TB Prospal (4), (Malone, Stamkos)
Congratulations to Rick Tocchet on his first NHL win as a head coach. Now go get number two.
Steven Stamkos had 2 helpers and was +1 in 11:58 with 3 shots and 1 hit. He was also 0-for-3 on draws. Tonight's game was the second multi-point night of the young man's career. Now go get number three.
I'll say this much: it's an improvement over the last game against the Panthers.
Mike Smith allowed 3 goals on 36 shots before stopping 1 of 2 shooters to take the shootout loss.
07:50 FLA McCabe (2), (Campbell, Dvorak)
19:43 FLA Booth (8, (Zednik, Weiss)(PP)
07:48 FLA McCabe (3), (Horton, Bouwmeester)(PP)
14:42 TB Vrbata (1), (Eminger, Stamkos)
03:44 TB Artyukhin (1), (Lecavalier, Eminger)
17:09 TB Eminger (1), (Artyukhin, Jokinen)
The Lightning outshot Florida 52-36 in the game. I'd say that is playing the game with a slightly higher tempo. Don't look now, but in six games since joining the Lightning Steve Eminger has 1 goal and 5 points.
Steven Stamkos had an assist and was +1 with 9 shots and 1 hit in a season high 17:55 of ice time. He also was 60% on draws. 9 shots. With his shot? If he keeps putting the puck on net at even half that clip, the goals will start coming in bunches.
The Lightning had their chances to get the two points in this game.
Mike Smith played well allowing 2 goals on 30 shots in regulation and overtime before going 0-for-2 in the shootout session.
11:20 TB St. Louis (4), (Vrbata)
04:09 TB Lecavalier (7), (Recchi, Eminger)(PP)
14:19 CAR Brookbank (1), (Sutter, Pitkanen)
15:37 CAR Brind'Amour (7), (Walker, Wallin)
CAR- Ruutu, Brind'Amour
Steven Stamkos was -1 in 15:10 with 1 shot, 3 hits, and he was 38% on draws.
Not. Even. Close.
Olaf Kolzig allowed 4 goals on 39 shots in the loss.
14:09 Recchi (3), (Krajicek, Vrbata)
18:19 TB Jokinen (6), (Meszaros, Ranger)(PP)
01:33 DET Datsyuk (5), (Lidstrom, Hossa)
01:38 DET Zetterberg (10), (Franzen, Hossa)(PP)
02:30 DET Samuelsson (3), (Datsyuk, Kronwall)(PP)
09:21 DET Franzen (7), (Zetterberg, Samuelsson)
15:42 TB Pettinger (1), (St. Louis, Prospal)
The Lightning were outshot 39-18 in the game.
When the Detroit Red Wings come to town, it's an opportunity for every other team to see how they measure up. Whether you like Detroit or not, they have been almost inarguably the most successful franchise in hockey for more than a decade. They have a system and a program, and it doesn't matter who the players are or even who the coaches are, they win hockey game. That's how they could absorb the losses of Hall of Fame caliber players like Steve Yzerman and Brendan Shanahan without skipping a beat. They are the measuring stick.
In the 2003-2004 regular season when the Lightning scratched a clawed their way to a point against Detroit in a very evenly matched contest between what would eventually become the first and second highest point totals in the league, it became very clear the Lightning were a legit contender for the Stanley Cup they hoisted at the end of that season. Tonight? Not. Even. Close. Yeah, I know it was a one goal game on paper, but when you get outshot by more than a 2:1 ratio and get completely outclassed in the final frame when you entered the period with a one goal lead to protect, it shows that you're miles behind the big dogs.
Now the Lightning have their first three game regulation losing streak of the season, and one has to wonder if the scenario we wondered about this summer on Bolt Prospects is potentially about to come to pass. Will the organization pull together, or does this all degenerate into a circular firing squad? Honestly, I think there's only two people who can really pull this out of the gutter right now: Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis. This is their team and it's been their team for years. The solutions clearly aren't coming from the front office or the coaching staff, so they need to come from inside the room from the team leaders.
Steven Stamkos was -1 in 9:51 with 1 hit and was 40% on draws.