Have you ever gone to a game with friends and afterwards started talking about what happened only to find out that the game you saw was nothing like the game everyone else saw? My sister and I would do that all the time. It finally got to the point where we’d ask each other how the game she went to was on the drive home.
That’s how this game was for me. On the game thread last night, everyone else all saw something completely different from what I saw. (Which, by the way, anyone is always welcome to join in on.) So if you don’t agree with my assessment, that’s alright since no one else seemed to, either.
I thought that they came out flat. Both teams. There wasn’t a lot of energy, and everyone – particularly the Lightning – looked tired. There was a lot of skating, but not a lot of jump. Vincent Lecavalier was one of the worst in not looking like he was physically ready to play. Mentally he was there, but physically, he did a lot of standing around looking pretty. And Martin St. Louis wasn’t that much better, either.
St. Louis had a penalty shot early in this game. I think that strip shootout game really lowered his self-confidence when it comes to skating one-on-one with a goalie. He didn't score - he shot high and wide - but he didn't look very comfortable doing it from the outset, either.
Steven Stamkos was on, tho. He had a fantastic game – the guy was everywhere. He had six shots on goal, was 11-5 in the faceoff circle (winning 69% of his faceoffs), and ended the night with two goals scored and an assist. Ryan Malone had a good night, too, with one goal (his eight on the season) and his first assists, if you can believe that. He also won both of the faceoffs that he ended up taking.
Alex Tanguay finally scored his first goal of the season, and it was a very nice one. He had had a breakaway chance earlier in the game that was stopped by a good Ottawa goaltender. David Hale and Kurtis Foster also had pretty solid efforts
And Mike Smith had a great night as well. Don’t let those two goals that Ottawa score at the end of the night fool you. Smith stood on his head when necessary. He looked very comfortable and very confident in net. And that’s definitely a good thing.
The best line of the night, tho, was the Todd Fedoruk, Zenon Konopka, and Steve Downie line. It’s not often that you can say that about a fourth line, but those guys together have been consistently the best line for the Lightning so far this season. Unlike the other three lines, they’ve really clicked. They’re tough, very disciplined, and can actually score. And Konopka is just amazing at faceoffs – which, really, who knew? I hope Tocchet and company keeps them together for a good long while.
Finally, let’s all welcome James Wright to the NHL. He’s played his 10 NHL game, which means he can’t be sent back to his major junior team, the Vancouver Giants of the WHL. So he is now an official NHLer. Enjoy the start of a sooner-than-expected, shiny new NHL career.
As a side note, the Tampa Bay Lightning have reached 11 points in the standings with this win. Last season, they'd made it to 10 points in 13 games. This season, it only took 10 games. So that is definitely an improvement. Though, it could've been done sooner with some of those shootout losses from earlier this season.