Nope, THAT was probably rock bottom.
Dwayne Roloson allowed 6 goals on 21 shots for the loss before Mathieu Garon allowed 1 on 5 shots the rest of the way. 7 goals on 26 shots is pitiful. Was goaltending the reason for the loss? No. But you can't win with a save percentage that's an eyelash above .750. Can't do it.
I'm tired of puckhandling mistakes ending up in the back of the net. I'm tired of play acting leading to pucks ending up in the back of the net. These guys need to be playing a very stripped down very focused style right now, and not circus hockey. It's a zoo between the pipes every other game right now.
TOR Macarthur (7), (Gardiner, Connolly), 00:41
TB Lecavalier (9), (Stamkos, Malone)(PP), 8:38
TOR Connolly (3), (Kulemin, Franson)(PP), 17:56
TOR Bozak (3), (Kessel, Connolly)(PP), 19:22
TOR Colborne (1), (Frattin, Liles), 17:45
TOR Bozak (4), (unassisted), 3:07
TOR Lupul (11), (Bozek, Phaneuf), 4:28
TOR Crabb (3), (Frattin, Gardiner), 14:28
It was pretty pitiful to allow a goal right off the bat. Then the team responded and looked as good on the forecheck and on the power play as I think I've seen them this season up until Victor Hedman whiffed on what probably should've been a goal off a Marty St. Louis feed, and then took an unlucky 4 minute minor, and the wheels came off. And then the wheels came off again when Roloson once again showed why he should never stray from his net. It's embarrassing. I felt like I was watching a Brian Lawton/Rick Tocchet team, not a Steve Yzerman/Guy Boucher team.
The situation is not improving to any extent I feel comfortable with. I don't think huge changes have to be made, but I don't think the old, "The answers are in the room," is working. You can't tell me the guys in Norfolk are so bad that they aren't at least worth a look to see if they can inject some fresh blood and enthusiasm into the lineup. This team just looks flat at the start of every game and I honestly wonder how anyone could argue that things would be worse with Carter Ashton or Radko Gudas or Mark Barberio getting an opportunity. You can't tell me that Blair Jones and Bruno Gervais are so much better than those players that it isn't worth even considering, and I don't give a damn how far away the organization thinks Gudas and Barberio are. If you believe they'll bite as dogs they'll bite as puppies. What's the worse that could happen? They'd give up 7 goals to the Maple Leafs?
Brett Connolly had 1 blocked shot in 11:28.
Clinical, workmanlike victory.
Dwayne Roloson allowed 1 goal on 34 shots for the win. As badly unfocused as he was in Winnipeg, he was equally outstanding tonight. Very sharp. Moved very well. Probably should have had a shutout except for the sloppy, penalty-filled, choppy ending to the game.
TB Lecavalier (7), (unassisted), 8:38
TB Connolly (4), (Moore, Bergeron)(PP), 4:08
TB Downie (2), (Brewer, Stamkos)(PP), 2:04
TB Lecavalier (8), (unassisted)(EN), 15:49
PIT Kennedy (2), (Martin, Staal), 16:49
34-18 still isn't a good shot disparity for the Lightning, and they definitely were outplayed in the first period, but this team gets the timely goal and save at home, and they've gotten the exact opposite on the road. It's a mystery as to why that is.
Brett Connolly had another goal and was -1 with 1 shot in 6:08. He was dropped to the fourth line to start the game and played sparingly, but was obviously effective in a smattering of power play shifts.
Blair Jones played 4:25. That's over $1,200 a minute for his night's work. I want Blair Jones' hourly rate, please. I'm sure the assistants run him through the gauntlet as a bubble guy when he's a scratch, and he's logged a lot of miles on buses with Springfield and Norfolk to get here, but still, it's nice work if you can get it.
Simultaneously frustrating and embarrassing.
Mathieu Garon allowed 3 goals on 24 shots for the loss.
STL Russell (3), (Grachev, Polak), 18:51
STL Shattenkirk (2), (Steen, Langenbrunner), 19:54
STL Oshie (5), (Backes)(SH), 6:26
Yuck. The Lightning only managed 18 shots on goal because they didn't have the puck all game long. There was no forecheck and no flow. The passing was off. They had no jump. That was really hard to watch. They just got whipped tonight. That was textbook.
Brett Connolly was -1 with 3 shots in 12:50.
Blair Jones was -1 with 2 hits in 6:46. We've always been big boosters of Blair on this site, but at some point he needs to be a little more than just a plumber. He's got something to give offensively, but it hasn't shown in the past few games. At all.
Can you imagine how good this team would be if they'd play 60 minutes?
Mathieu Garon allowed 3 goals on 12 shots before being lifted for Dwayne Roloson. Roloson bailed him out stopping all 28 shots he faced and all 4 shooters in the penalty shot session for the shootout win.
FLA Campbell (1), (Versteeg, Fleischmann)(PP), 1:49
FLA Kopecky (2), (Skille, Weaver), 13:05
FLA Santorelli (1), (Kulikov), 15:21
TB Malone (4), (Stamkos, Brewer)(PP), 16:20
TB Stamkos (10), (Gilroy, St. Louis), 17:46
TB Purcell (5), (Downie, Brewer), 8:11
Roloson, Steven Stamkos, and Teddy Purcell were the game's three stars.
My three stars would've included Steve Downie, who had the tying goal Kontos'ed from him by Teddy Purcell, and Matt Gilroy, who swooped into the zone late in the second period and then dished the perfect saucer to Stamkos to get the deficit down to 1 goal heading into the final frame.
For those who like to complain about Victor Hedman, I'll refer you to that first period as an example of why you should appreciate the young man. It took 20 minutes for the Lightning to adjust to playing without their bell cow on the backline.
I wish this team would figure out how to play a full 60 minute game. This 30-40 minutes of effort schtick is not going to keep getting them W's. The flat first periods have to stop.
Brett Connolly had 2 shots and 2 hits in 13:37. He showed really good speed cranking up a 3/4 ice rush that ended up in a wraparound attempt in the third period. It'll be interesting to see that part of his game develop where he carries it more.
Blair Jones had 1 hit in 6:41. He's like an awful cacophony of legs and arms that couldn't avoid hitting you on the forecheck if he tried.
Dwayne Roloson has officially pulled himself up off the canvas with a 28 save shutout.
TB Lecavalier (5), (Stamkos, Brewer)(PP), 19:20
Roli and Vincent Lecavalier were the game's first and second stars. Jets goaltender Ondrej Pavelec got the third star, as he was the only thing keeping the Jets from utter annihilation for the first two periods before Roli slammed the door in the third.
And the third jerseys (and the black, and the celebration stripes) retain their unbeaten record this year...
Brett Connolly had 1 shot and 1 hit in 10:34. Diminished ice time with the score tight is the plight of the NHL rookie.
Defense/goaltending snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
Mathieu Garon got lifted after allowing 5 goals on 17 shots for the loss. Dwayne Roloson stopped all 10 he faced the rest of the way. So, Garon's hot streak may be over, and hopefully Roli is refreshed from a few nights off.
NSH Kostitsyn (3), (Smith, Fisher), 6:25
NSH Fisher (1), (Kostitsyn, Smith), 14:05
TB Stamkos (5), (Purcell, Malone), 16:36
TB Purcell (3), (Connolly, Bergeron)(PP), 19:33
NSH Hornqvist (1), (Halischuk, Geoffrion), 7:43
NSH Spaling (1), (Hillen, Blum), 11:20
NSH Fisher (2), (Spaling), 12:10
TB Stamkos (6), (Bergeron, St. Louis), 17:03
Defensive zone coverage and turnovers continue to be an Achilles Heel. Offense continues to not be a problem, though, even with a fizzling power play. Heaven help the NHL if Boucher can get those items smoothed out. Lecavalier, Stamkos, and St. Louis all seem to be on their games, lately.
Brett Connolly had a helper and was -2 with 1 hit in 13:42.
Lightning respond well to adversity to move above .500.
Mathieu Garon allowed 3 goals on 39 shots for the victory. He kept the Lightning in the game in the first period. It could've been 4-0 after the first 10-15 minutes easily, and he held off the wolves at 3-2 long enough for Ryan Malone to get the key insurance goal.
BUF Vanek (7), (Pominville, Adam), 1:56
BUF Boyes (1), (McCormick, Ellis), 2:31
TB Lecavalier (4), (St. Louis), 13:03
TB Thompson (2), (Pyatt, Moore), 19:00
TB Stamkos (4), (Gilroy, Bergeron), 4:42
TB Malone (3), (Clark), 18:37
BUF Gerbe (2), (Gaustad, Boyes), 19:10
Garon and Steven Stamkos were the game's first and third stars.
Sloppy game. Ugly game. But, for the Lightning to pull themselves off the mat after falling behind 2-0 early is an outstanding sign. Special thanks to Ryan Miller for allowing a couple of iffy goals.
Brett Connolly was +1 with 1 hit in 15:17. He got higher ice time tonight playing with Vinny and Marty, and they were the most dangerous line on the ice tonight. It's decision time right now for Steve Yzerman, but my guess is the coaching staff has already given him the thumbs up with 15 minutes on the big line in this game.
Blair Jones was -1 with 1 hit in 7:18.
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.