Tampa Bay Lightning

Content regarding the Tampa Bay Lightning organization.

NHL Game Night: 1-31-17 Bruins at Lightning

Lightning go meekly into that good night.

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Ben Bishop allowed 4 goals on 35 shots for the loss. His inability to make situational saves cost the Lightning dearly in this one. Short of showcasing Bishop for a trade, I don't see much purpose in feeding him starts moving forward. Vasilevskiy got rolling a little before the All-Star Break. The Lightning need to make sure of what they have in Andrei.

First Period
NO SCORING

Second Period
8:41 TB Killorn (14), (Hedman, Johnson)
18:08 BOS Bergeron (12), (McQuaid, Marchand)
19:59 BOS Krejci (12), (Marchand, Miller)

Third Period
4:46 TB Killorn (15), (Hedman, Johnson)
7:51 BOS Chara (4), (Miller, Beleksey)
12:23 BOS Vatrano (6), (Krejci, Miller)(PP)
17:56 TB Point (4), (Hedman, Dotchin)

Alex Killorn was the game's second star.

The Lightning played a really solid first half of this game to build a 1-0 lead, and then waved the white flag of surrender for the final thirty minutes. What you witnessed was a Lightning team that lethargically gave away a couple of goals with sleepy play late in the Second Period and then played back on their heels most of the Third Period. And, even when they fell behind 3-2, they had a chance to turn the momentum of the game when Tyler Johnson did the unthinkable and passed out of a breakaway. Let me reiterate that: Tyler Johnson passed out of a breakaway. I just... what do you say about that. He passed... out of a breakaway?

Brayden Point had a goal and was +1 with 2 shots, 2 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 15:47. He also was 33% on 6 draws. You could make an argument he was the Lightning's best player in his return afer missing about a month due to injury. He's now 4 games from graduation from prospect status on the website.

Jake Dotchin had a helper, his first NHL point, and was +1 with 1 shot and 2 hits in 20:25. Re-read that minutes total. There's no more resounding an indictment of the Lightning right side defenseman situation that that.

Gabriel Dumont was +1 with 1 shot and 3 hits in 10:34. He was also 67% on 9 draws. He's been hot fire in the faceoff circles and shown a lot of hustle in his checking line role.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 1-26-17 Lightning at Panthers

Lightning waste inspired performance by young Vasilevskiy.

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Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 2 goals on 37 shots for the OT loss. I feel sick for the kid, because he absolutely deserved the win tonight and had no chance on the two goals he allowed. The good news is that, with back-to-back quality starts, he's starting to answer some questions in the affirmative about his ability to be the starter. And, make no mistake about it, the mere fact he was given back-to-back starts is no coincidence. The Lightning are in full evaluation mode now with the season pretty much out of hand.

First Period
9:55 FLA Jokinen (5), (Trocheck, Yandle)(SH)
11:33 TB Kucherov (19), (Drouin, Killorn)(PP)

Second Period
NO SCORING

Third Period
NO SCORING

Overtime
1:49 FLA Marchessault (14), (Yandle, Jokinen)(PP)

Vasilevskiy was the game's third star. Well deserved.

Prior to the game defenseman Nikita Nesterov was dealt to Montreal for a 23-year old minor league depth defenseman (Jonathan Racine) and a late round draft pick. Moving Nesterov should be viewed as the team giving up on a young defenseman whose anemic offensive production never really balanced out his defensive deficiencies, which simply weren't improving.

As for the game, the Lightning played a pretty emotionless, antiseptic game in the First Period. But, as the Panthers acted like the classless lumberjacks they always do, the intensity level came up and the team played a fairly even game with a reasonable work rate. Still, we're not seeing certain players like the Triplets play as well as you'd like to see them right now in this evaluation period. Tyler Johnson ultimately wore the goat horns for taking a penalty following a terrible turnover in OT. That's not good from one of the guys on this roster who I honestly believe is being scrutinized to determine his long term role (or lack thereof) in the organization.

Jake Dotchin had 4 penalty minutes, 3 shots, and 2 hits in 17:20. Mixed bag. I detected at least one bad turnover and his lack of foot speed and experience probably contributed to his two interference calls. That said, he did make some nice plays in all three zones, too. The issue I have with Dotchin is that, with his skating being what it is (and this probably goes with Witkowski, too), I have a hard time seeing him as more than a Band-aid. Can he be an NHL'er in a 6th/7th defenseman role? Perhaps. But, on an elite club like the Lightning should be?

Gabriel Dumont had 5 penalty minutes, 1 shot, and 1 hit in 7:27. He may be small, but he sure did beat the stuffing out of McKegg tonight.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 1-24-17 Lightning at Blackhawks

Too little too late?

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Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 2 goals on 36 shots for the victory. Vasilevskiy needs to string together some quality starts like this to begin to answer the question as to whether he can take over the starting duties from Bishop full time next season. That's one of the big agenda items still to be sorted out this year.

First Period
10:23 CHI Toews (9), (Panik, Hartman)
18:35 TB Boyle (12), (Filppula)

Second Period
1:26 CHI Keith (3), (Panarin, Toews)

Third Period
2:47 TB Nesterov (3), (Boyle)
6:14 TB Johnson (14), (Killorn, Filppula)
6:44 TB Johnson (15), (Killorn, Vasilevskiy)
17:55 TB Kucherov (18), (unassisted)(EN)

It's a good win against a quality opponent, take nothing away from it as an individual game. But, in the grand scheme of things, barring a crazy 10-game winning streak thrown in somewhere, the standings math is just too dire right now. Sitting on 49 points through 49 games, for the Lightning to get on pace to hit 96 points by game 80 with 2 games left to play, the team would have to get 47 of the next 62 possible points. That's .758 hockey to get on a comfortable playoff pace. Even if you want to gamble the team can get the 4 extra points in games 81 and 82 to get over the finish line and lower the target to 92 points by game 80, that's still .694 hockey and relying on a lot of help/tie breakers to fall the team's way. That's just nearly an impossible ask for this group.

Still, there were some positive developments in this game. I think the Lightning have some hard questions to ask of the three former members of The Triplets as to what degree they ride or die with them in the long run. Palat and Johnson have been inconsistent and Kucherov hasn't fully been himself since returning from injury earlier this season. So, for Johnson to step up and pot a couple of key goals in this game is hopefully the harbinger of a great stretch run the rest of the year.

Jake Dotchin had 2 penalty minutes, 1 shot, 4 hits, and 2 blocked shots in 15:00 even. This was an extended look-see for the Lightning to diagnose what they have in a prospect, no doubt. I expect to see more of these types of cups of coffee the rest of the year with better ice time for young players to show their wares.

Gabriel Dumont had 2 hits and was 86% on 7 draws in 10:56.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 1-21-17 Lightning at Coyotes

Lightning's season dies in the desert.

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Ben Bishop allowed 5 goals on 17 shots for the loss before being pulled for Andrei Vasilevskiy. Vasilevskiy turned aside all 6 shots he faced the rest of the way.

First Period
8:05 ARI Reider (9), (Vrbata, Ekman-Larsson)
10:19 ARI Vrbata (11), (Hanzal, Reider)
18:39 TB Paquette (4), (Dumont, Bournival)

Second Period
14:56 ARI Stone (1), (Hanzal, Vrbata)(PP)
18:25 ARI Fischer (1), (McGinn, Burmistrov)
19:44 ARI Hanzal (10), (Vrbata, Reider)

Third Period
9:45 TB Namestnikov (6), (Filppula, Palat)
14:18 TB Palat (10), (Johnson, Nesterov)(PP)

Tampa Bay outshot Arizona by a very significant 48-23 margin, but that only underlines what a mess the team's goaltending has been this season. Bishop allowed two of the softest goals you'll see in your life in the First Period to put his team down 2-0, and lookee there, the team lost the game 5-3. Soft goals, as they often are, turn out to be the margin of error. Unfortunately, the Lightning have had a soft goal or questionable goaltending gaffe in each game of the current road trip, which is horribly demoralizing to a team. When you have to work twice as hard as the other team for a goal because your goaltending is faulty, it robs your team of its spirit. It really does.

The calculus now is pretty much impossible to overcome, to the extent that I'm ready to write the team's eulogy. They'd have to play about .750 hockey the rest of the way to get back on playoff pace, and that seems impossible given all the challenges the team is facing. The goaltending has been disappointing all season long. The center play has been steadily devolving since Steven Stamkos and subsequently Brayden Point got injured earlier in the season. Key forwards like "The Triplets" have suddenly gone missing on the scoresheet over the past several weeks. And, the defense continues to struggle to compensate for the team's inability to consistently play its possession style game and against the counters they routinely face when that style goes off the rails.

The Lightning have an excellent core of their hockey team, in general, and a rebuild is certainly not warranted. But, a serious in-season evaluation and a retooling is definitely in order. Bottom line, this team probably has one goaltending move, two or three moves on the blueline, and three or four moves at forward to make. Not big moves, in all cases, but necessary moves. If done shrewdly, and if the Lightning can get a little more luck with injuries in 2018-2019, there's little to suggest this year won't just be a little bump in the road and not a sinkhole.

Luke Witkowski was +1 with 1 shot and 1 hit in 8:06.

Jake Dotchin was -1 with 4 hits in 11:47 in his NHL debut.

Gabriel Dumont had a helper and was +1 with 5 shots, 6 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 13:53. He was also 71% on 7 draws. His game tonight was the continuation of a fantastic road trip by the line of Paquette/Dumont/Bournival, which along with the play of Jonathan Drouin has been the real bright spot of going out west.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 1-19-17 Lightning at Sharks

Soft goal and lack of finishing doom promising Lightning performance.

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Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 2 goals on 24 shots for the loss. His soft goal to start the Third Period ultimately became the margin of losing, which soft goals often do. Ben Bishop got away with it against the Kings and managed to salvage a point against the Ducks with questionable mistakes, but it's not sustainable for any team to regularly be spotting teams a free goal.

First Period
NO SCORING

Second Period
5:01 SJ Carpenter (2), (Martin, Burns)
6:51 TB Drouin (14), (Boyle, Kucherov)(PP)

Third Period
0:22 SJ Couture (15), (Labanc, Donskoi)

Jonathan Drouin was the game's second star. His highlight reel goal was the lone bright spot in another frustrating night at the office for the Lightning's finishers. They had some chances, but ultimately 25 shots and a correspondingly low number of overall scoring chances isn't enough. Better play is needed from the likes of Nikita Kucherov and the team's other big guns even as they start to get the defensive side of their game right.

The loss means Tampa Bay will again lose ground on playoff pacing in this 10-game segment of the season. How much? That remains to be seen. The team will be at least 7 points off pace by the end of the segment.

Luke Witkowski had 2 shots, 2 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 12:58.

Gabriel Dumont had 5 hits in 10:17.

Joel Vermin was -2 with 2 hits in 5:17.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 1-17-17 Lightning at Ducks

Hockey gods unfair to the Lightning.

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Ben Bishop allowed 2 goals on 21 shots for the loss. He played reasonably well, but you can make an argument his first goal allowed on a strange play where he vacated his crease before the whistle could be blown on a mask issue ultimately cost him a shutout and Tampa Bay a second point.

First Period
NO SCORING

Second Period
4:36 TB Filppula (7), (Nesterov, Stralman)
4:57 ANH Getzlaf (6), (unassisted)

Third Period
NO SCORING

Overtime
0:54 ANH Rakell (19), (Kesler)(PP)

Jonathan Drouin was the game's third star. Best player on the ice, and it wasn't even close. Like many of the Lightning's players in the game, he had everything but the finish.

It's unfair really. This was probably the Lightning's best game of the season in all three zones. The attention to detail and hustle over the last couple of games has been amazing, and the Lightning pretty well dominated this game for 60 minutes with only the occasional uprising from Anaheim's top line. It's a shame the Lightning couldn't find one more finish, and it's a shame the Lightning ultimately lost the game on a power play off a penalty Tyler Johnson had to take in OT when he lost an edge pulling up in the offensive zone on a rush. The hockey gods are cruel.

The standings calculus is so dire right now it almost doesn't bear dwelling on. Suffice it to say the Lightning started to turn their game around about two weeks too late, and the margin of error for this segment is that they need to get 7 of 8 remaining points in this 10 game segment just to tread water relative to their position of 6 games ago.

Luke Witkowski had 2 penalty minutes and 3 hits in 9:22.

Gabriel Dumont was -1 with 1 shot and 3 hits in 8:03. He played a lot with Bournival and Paquette on a checking line that was absolutely fantastic in this contest. They were good against the Kings. They were dominant against guys well above their pay grade in this contest.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Game Day: 1-16-17 Lightning at Kings

Lightning stave off Kings even with Hedman ill.

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Ben Bishop just allowed 1 goal on 32 shots for the victory. His puckhandling gaffe turned out to be the only goal he allowed. That's how you overcome a mistake in style: with perfection and a trove of situational saves.

First Period
8:33 LAK Clifford (3), (unassisted)
14:33 TB Johnson (13), (Drouin, Witkowski)

Second Period
18:47 TB Boyle (11), (Filppula, Kucherov)

Third Period
NO SCORING

Jonathan Drouin and Anton Stralman were the game's first and second stars.

The Lightning showed a lot of grit under the gun of a lot of adversity when an ill Victor Hedman tapped out of the game in the pregame warmups. The Lightning got big minutes from Andrej Sustr and Nikita Nesterov to try to make up the difference, and they put in an inspired effort with their hustle and tenacity against the bigger, stronger Kings club.

Luke Witkowski had a helper and was +1 with 7 penalty minutes and 3 hits in 10:05. He did his job today setting the tone with a monster hit early in the game and then answering the bell to drop the gloves in an ensuing altercation. He got their minds right for what they needed to do in this game.

Gabriel Dumont had 4 shots, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 9:56.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 1-13-17 Blue Jackets at Lightning

Game (and possibly season) slips away from Tampa Bay.

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Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 2 goals on 30 shots for the hard luck loss. He deserved better. He made a good number of timely saves but the Lightning couldn't finish their chances most of the night. It's a shame. A win would've been huge for the team and huge for Vasilevskiy's confidence.

First Period
16:18 TB Drouin (13), (Filppula, Palat)

Second Period
16:40 CBJ Anderson (10), (Savard)

Third Period
4:29 CBJ Foligno (15), (Werenski, Wennberg)(PP)
18:55 CBJ Jenner (7), (unassisted)(SH)(EN)

Jonathan Drouin was the game's third star.

The Lightning couldn't finish their chances, let Columbus hang around, and eventually the Blue Jackets finished just enough of theirs. It's really simple. The Lightning played a pretty good game overall. They dominated the first 30 minutes of the contest and could've easily built a good sized lead with the scoring chances they had, but they allowed Columbus to hang around. The final 30 minutes of the game the Blue Jackets found some traction with their forecheck and eventually found the tying goal and drew the power play to get the winner. All things being equal, there wouldn't be a whole lot from this game to cry over, but things are not equal right now. The Lightning standings situation is fast becoming desperate and it's getting to the point where every night they fail to earn points puts them closer to an early trip to the golf course.

Gabriel Dumont was -1 with 3 shots and 1 hit in 9:08. He was also 60% on 5 draws.

Matthew Peca had 2 penalty minutes and 1 shot in 7:46.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

AHL Game Night: 1-13-17 Marlies at Crunch

Crunch, goaltending tandem, outlast Marlies.

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Adam Wilcox allowed 3 goals on 20 shots before giving way to Kristers Gudlevskis, who allowed 1 goal on 7 shots the rest of the way for the win.

First Period
18:15 SYR Taormina (11), (Halmo, Richard)

Second Period
0:12 SYR Morin (7), (Vermin, Thomas)
4:03 TOR Froese (15), (Leipsic, Lindberg)
7:17 TOR Cameranesi (2), (Corrado, Clune)
13:49 TOR Leipsic (10), (Nielsen, Kapanen)
19:40 SYR Taormina (12), (Richard, Conacher)(PP)

Third Period
1:10 SYR Gourde (11), (Walcott)
6:33 SYR Richard (8), (Conacher, Taormina)(PP)
10:16 TOR Cameranesi (3), (Moore, Corrado)

Matt Taormina and Yanni Gourde were the game's first and second stars.

Syracuse holds a 1 point lead in the AHL North Division with 3 games in hand on second place Albany.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 1-12-17 Sabres at Lightning

Bishop returns.

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Ben Bishop returned from IR and allowed 2 goals on 26 shots for the victory. He was hung out to dry on the first shot of the game after a three week layoff, but pretty well held down the fort with timely saves from there on out, while also helping a shaky d-corps with his ability to conduct traffic with his puckhandling. It was welcome relief.

First Period
2:58 BUF Moulson (9), (Girgensons, Fedun)
5:37 TB Palat (8), (Johnson, Drouin)(PP)

Second Period
5:18 TB Palat (9), (Nesterov, Namestnikov)
12:58 TB Kucherov (17), (Hedman, Palat)

Third Period
10:30 BUF Kane (11), (Eichel, Falk)
19:42 TB Stralman (2), (Filppula, Boyle)(PP)(EN)

Ondrej Palat, Nikita Kucherov, and Bishop were the game's three stars.

There's an obvious talent gap between Tampa Bay and Buffalo, so I'm not ready to start a parade for the Lightning beating an inferior team. For tonight's effort to matter, they need to keep this going against Columbus tomorrow night.

Gabriel Dumont was -1 with 1 shot an 1 hit in 10:06. He was also 75% on 4 draws.

Matthew Peca had 1 shot in 9:57.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

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