Game 75: Tampa Bay at Washington

The Tampa Bay Lightning lost to the Washington Capitals 5-3.

Well, the good news is that no one got seriously injured - unlike the last two games that I've gone to with the Lightning at the Verizon Center in DC. (Lecavalier's shoulder a year ago, and Heward's concussion - and being carted off the ice on a stretcher - this season.) So I may not have to ban going to that arena after all.

First off, I'd just like to say that I enjoyed the game. It was a good game with an almost playoff vibe to it. The Lightning played really well, tho they did have a couple of lapses that cost them.

I was stunned by the number of shots on goal that Tampa Bay took. Especially after seeing how they did with that the previous two games. It was great to see, but I couldn't help but wonder why they can't do that all the time.

The problem with going to games is that you don't have any statistics available to you. And while I realize that statistics never tell the whole story - and in fact, you can spin statistics to tell whatever story you want them to - I find them to be helpful. You can only catch so much when you're watching a game, after all.

For instance, while I saw that St. Louis was having a good game, I had no idea that he was credited with nine shots on goal for the night. Yes - nine of the total 36 shots on goal came off of Marty St. Louis' stick. So it adds to what I saw.

Speaking of sticks, they were breaking left and right last night. I really think that those carbon composite and aluminum shaft sticks ought to be banned. It should be like baseball and use only wood. But I know that's not a popular opinion. Still, think of how much money teams could save by not dropping $200 or more on those composite sticks that break ever couple of games or so.

By the way, in regards to St. Louis, those stitches looked pretty ugly. Did they have to use black thread for those? And I know that it's going to look worse today and tomorrow when that shiner really kicks in, too.

Penalties were an issue, though not necessarily the way I usually mean. I've noticed that officials tend to give more breaks to winning teams - as well as to star players. A star player can get away with a lot more than a third or fourth line guy. That holds true for just about any sport, and last night was no exception. The Capitals definitely got more breaks than the Lightning did. I saw some things that the Caps had done that the Lightning were getting called for but they weren't.

Officiating has been so inconsistent this season! And not just with the Lightning, but for everyone in the NHL. They were so consistent right after the lockout, and now they're not that great. I wonder what's up with that?

It was a good game, tho, and I'm glad I went. Even if it didn't exactly go the way I'd wanted it to. Still, it's not a bad deal when a team like the Lightning can keep up and be competitive for almost the entire game with one of the best squads in the NHL right now.

No one targeted Ovechkin - despite the media buildup around that whole silly 50th goal celebration. In fact, Ovechkin was pretty low-key all game. I'm not sure if that was in response to what had happened the previous time these two teams met or not. Yes, he did score two goals and get two assists, but he seemed subdued to me - as did most of the Capitals, really. So that was interesting as well.

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