Tampa Bay Lightning Game 2: at the Carolina Hurricanes

The Tampa Bay Lightning lost to the Carolina Hurricanes 2-1 in a shootout.

The Lightning won their first point in the standings. But they haven’t won a regular season game since last season: March 24th, in overtime, against the Columbus Blue Jackets. For those keeping score at home, they’ve lost their last 11 regular season games – going back into last season, of course.

Now, I realize that it’s far too early to be pointing fingers and panicking. I mean, we are only two games into the 2009-2010 season. Still, there is reason to be concerned. Especially when you’ve got division teams like Washington, who have Alexander Ovechkin scoring five goals in his first three games. If you want to think playoffs, you’ve got to be able to stay with Washington – or, at the very least, Carolina – this season. All season.

Physically, they’re ready to play. Most of the kinks have been worked out, and guys know what they’re supposed to be doing. It’s definitely the mental part of things that are the problem. Like with most sports, hockey is 95% mental. (Or maybe it’s that hockey players are mental? I forget exactly….)

On a night that saw Adam Oates behind the bench for the first time ever, the Lightning’s power play was pretty dismal. They were one of eight, and they even had 1:17 where they’d played 5-on-3. During the preseason, the power play was great, so I’m not sure what the deal is there. I think they just need to work on their timing a bit is all.

They were aggressive, and they took some unnecessary penalties, but it was a hard-fought game. At least it seemed that way on the radio since there was a tv blackout for the game due to Versus’ exclusivity. But that’s a blog for another day. More like a rant, really, but I digress.

Victor Hedman played almost 25 minutes, but so did Martin St. Louis, so I guess I really shouldn’t complain about that. This time. And it did go into overtime. But even St. Louis shouldn’t be asked to log that much ice time so early in the season.

The Lightning had plenty of shots, with Steven Stamkos leading the way with six on the night. The shooting problem wasn’t so much during the game as it was after overtime. I’m not sure how a team can prepare for the shootout, other than to have a great scouting report on the goaltenders. Skating and shooting are only part of the deal – you have to know where to put the puck as well.

Mattias Ohlund left the game early in the third period. There was no word as to why, but hopefully it’s nothing serious. Kurtis Foster was skating yesterday, so look for him to return sooner rather than later. David Hale did a good job in his place, however. Good thing the Lightning are carrying nine defensemen on their roster, right?

All in all, it was a better game than their first. They still mentally need to pull themselves together, tho. It’s a marathon, not a sprint, so pacing themselves will probably be key for them this season. Every game is important, but not every game is worth squeezing your stick so hard that you can’t do your job.

By the way, I’ll be attending the Washington Capitals-New York Rangers game Thursday night, so there probably won’t be much of a game recap (if any) for the Lightning’s home opener.

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