The Tampa Bay Lightning lost to the Chicago Blackhawks 4-0.
Despite the score, it wasn’t a bad game by the Lightning. And when I say "bad", I mean "awful". They did some good things, but weren’t lucky enough to convert anything.
Of course, they were out-shot – 29-18 in this instance. And the overall team faceoff winning percentage wasn’t that great at 44%. But they did get some scoring chances early on. And their penalty killing looked very good, especially with the two back-to-back five-on-threes that they had to kill off.
But the power play was ineffective, they took far too many undisciplined penalties, and the defense could play well everywhere but right in front of Antero Niittymaki.
And then there’s the lack of scoring.
The players were making the effort to score, however. Kurtis Foster had five shots, Martin St. Louis and Stephane Veilleux each had three shots, and Steven Stamkos with his bum wrist had two shots on goal. On the scorer’s sheet, the official tally for Vincent Lecavalier was only one shot on goal, but that doesn’t count the three attempted but blocked shots he had, and the two missed shots he took as well.
The problem with scoring is that they’re a perimeter team. The only player willing to consistently put himself in front of the net is Ryan Malone – which is why he has so many goals this season. No one else is willing to take the abuse required to camp out in front of the other team’s goalie. Everyone else is more than happy to stay to the outside and take those long shots that most goalies see coming from a mile away.
The problem with the defense is that the defensemen are jumping into plays and leaving the back end exposed to breakaways, while the forwards are playing too deep. No one’s setting up plays – they all just dive in and hope for the best. You can’t have that. You have to have some kind of on-ice structure spelled out and executed. Guys have got to play their positions at all times, not try to force scoring and therefore giving up their defensive positioning. Scoring is just half of the game.
The next game is at the Nashville Predators on Tuesday, 15 December, at 8 pm Eastern.
Lightning vs Blackhawks coverage [SB Nation]
Second City Hockey [SB Nation Chicago Blackhawk's site]