An "un-inspired" Lightning squad drop two straight games.
Over the past two games it has been difficult to watch the Lightning play the type of hockey they are playing. Although they've lost two straight games, they still have a 4-4-4 record, putting them at .500. Before I get into why I think the Bolts are struggling, lets review the past two games.
Devils @ Lightning (10/31/09):
On Halloween night, well more like afternoon, the Devils payed a visit to the St. Pete Times Forum for the second time this season. The Lightning gave Antero Niitymaki the nod in goal and it turned out to be a good decision. Niitymaki stopped 37 of 38 Devils shots throughout regulation play and a 5 minute overtime period. The Lightning, on the other hand, could only come up with 19 shots on Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur.
In the 1st period the Lightning could not seem to come up with a proper way tio defend the Devils or get any time in the offensive zone. Shots at the end of the period were a lopsided 13-3 for the Devils, as Niittymaki played very strong.
A few seconds into the 2nd period, Devils forward Travis Zajacbeat Niittymaki off of a rebound to put the Devils up 1-0. Although there was no more scoring in the 2nd, the Devils, once again, outshot the Lightning 15-6.
Then, 4:34 into the 3rd period, Steven Stamkoscontinued his scoring dominance by beating Martin Brodeur through the legs. It was Stammers 10th goal on the year. Martin St. Louis also had an assist on that goal, keeping his scoring streak going to 11 games. Ryan Malone was awarded with the other assist.
After an average Overtime period, the Lightning went to the area of play where they have struggled the most over the past two seasons: the shootout. The Lightning chose to shot first as they went with defenseman Andrej Meszaros. After making a nice move on Brodeur, Meszaros ripped the shot right off the post. After Niittymaki made the stop on Zach Parise, Jeff Halpernwas up for the Bolts. Halpern just ripped the shot wide of the net. After Niitty made the stop on Jamie Langenbrunner, both Steven Stamkos and Travis Zajac put their shots wide of the net. The struggling Vincent Lecavaliertook a "half hearted" shot to say the least on Brodeur and Devils forward David Clarkson won it in the shootout for the Devils.
Lightning @ Flyers (11/2/09):
The Lightning looked to earn their first road victory of the season Monday night as they traveled to Philadelphia to take on the Flyers. In the net for the Bolts was Mike Smith. Although struggling early on in the season, Smitty had played well over his past 3 games for the Lightning. On the other end, former Senator Ray Emery was in the goal for the Flyers.
The Lightning looked terrible once again as the Flyers dominated the entire 60 minute duration of the game. The Flyers had strong forechecking that the Lightning simply could not defend against. the Bolts also had no offensive skill this night as they could not get into the Flyers zone. Long story short, because of horrible defensive and offensive play, the Lightning lost 6-2 at the Wachovia Center. Mike Smith was pulled in the second, but I feel it wasn't completely his fault. Like I said, Nobody played defensive and he got no offensive support.
On a good note though, Steven Stamkos scored yet another goal, giving him 11 on the season. Stamkos has now recorded goals in 6 straight games, tying Vincent Lecavalier for the second longest streak of scoring at least one goal a game. Stamkos needs to score in two more games to tie Brian Bradley's franchise record of scoring a goal a game with 8, set in 1992.
What's The Problem?
Did anyone, excluding Stamkos, St. Louis, and Malone, get the memo that you're supposed to put that black thing made of rubber into the net!? Do you know who has the most goals on the team behind Stamkos, Malone, and St. louis? Todd Fedoruk! Are you kidding me!? What I'm trying to say is that the main problem for the Bolts is scoring. Lets break it down:
Lecavalier: 1 goal
Tanguay: 1 goal
Halpern: 1 goal
Miller: 0 goals
Veilleux: 0 goals
I realize some of these players are "depth players" and don't score a ton of goals, but there is absolutely no offensive production from the 3rd line to the 4th line. Not to mention, the Lightning have had what?, 2 or 3 goals from their defense? Just put the puck in the net!
The bottom line is, stop switching up the lines, have some consistency, and SCORE!
Well, the Lightning will look to accomplish this tonight as they travel to Toronto to take on the 1 win Maple Leafs.