WHERE: Nationwide Arena, Columbus, Ohio
WHEN: 7 PM EDT
MEDIA: Sun Sports (cable), 620 WDAE (radio)
OPPONENT COVERAGE: Blue Jackets Cannon
The mood is somber over the Boltosphere. Sha-Sha is straightforward in her apathy toward the team at current. Others remain silent because... Well, after the pattern reared it's head again, what else is there to talk about?
Indeed, what now? Such disappointment. Such promise and ultimately such a let down... Nolan Whyte at Frozen Sheets waxes poetic about what's left:
Now we watch a bunch of depressed millionaires play out a string of games. Now we sit back and wait for the draft, and free agency, and wonder what the team will look like after yet another tear-down and rebuild.
Now we drink a few beers to wash away the bitterness, and even though the season isn't even over yet, we start waiting for next October.
Playing out the string does describe these final games of the season. For some, it will be a tryout for the World Championships -- the annual international tournament that takes places after the regular season concludes. For others, it's playing for pride, as Zeke Konopka has already let on to in a previous quote.
And for coaching... Well, it's out of their hands, even if actions of late would seem like they are trying to save their job.
Reports said that the Lightning were sent through a punishment skate on Sunday by head coach Rick Tocchet, and honestly this is the first time this season that I can recall the Bolts being worked into the ground for showing nothing the previous night.
But when beat writer Damian Cristodero approaches the happening as a question, I get a bit annoyed. "Was it needed sooner?" What kind of question is that? Did it come at the right time? Of coruse not... Right now it's futile...
But this is the point that really got to me:
There also is a point about timing. Tampa Bay had two days between games and Tocchet could afford to skate the guys into the ground knowing the players had an extra day to get their legs back. Don't know how many times those factors -- a really bad game followed by a couple days off -- lined up previously during the season, but I'm sure not many.
It doesn't take much research to look at the Lightning schedule. It doesn't take that long a memory to knw that the Lightning had played so-so through most of October and November, and that there would be long stretches of off-days between games.
On paper, the results don't show effort on ice for each given game. Too many times the Lightning eked out a win by playing 15 minutes of hockey a night. In the face of poor efforts, win or lose, a coaches job is to drive his players with a message that lack of effort will not be tolerated.
There were opportunities to send this message. Not just in October, or November, but all through the season. The willingness to punish the roster, however... That can be put into question.
Kurtis Foster will be back in the lineup tonight after missing the debacle in Buffalo on Saturday. Ryan Malone is also back with the Lightning - practicing with the team on Monday at the Ice Haus (wunderbar! ) in Columbus.
2010 NHL Entry Draft Prospect
Continuing our look at some of the top prospects for this year's entry draft (taken from The Scouting Report)
Mikael Granlund (C)
...Granlund jumped out of the gates with his new club as one of the top offensive threats in the entire SM-Liiga (Finland). His strong play earned Granlund a lot of top five consideration but after a somewhat underwhelming World Junior performance, he’s negated much of his early poise. Granlund might be a bit of a risky pick given that he is an undersized forward who doesn’t skate particularly well for his size. Overlooking that, however, Granlund is one of the top playmaking forwards available in this draft. He sees the ice extremely well and is very talented, and even competes hard for a player of his stature.