Back off the Lightning for not applying any pressure at the start of last night's game against the Flyers. Who's to say that a team missing two of its top defensemen, playing against the top offensive team in the league, has to be aggressive on the forecheck from the get-go? How can anyone watching from the press box have the audacity to tell what strategies the coaches can and cannot employ? That said, I have some thoughts on last nights game and the reaction to it.
Ultimately, this issue is going to boil down to the question of who is at fault for the dead play: the Lightning for playing an extremely passive forecheck, or the Flyers for making no attempt to break out of their own zone. In my somewhat biased opinion, I believe that the blame rests entirely on the Flyers for this atrocity. The Lightning should not be held at fault in any way for playing a very conservative defense in the the first period, where they have struggled all season. Rather, this move was an extremely classless move from the Flyers; a childish protest, if you will. It's one thing to spend 10 or 20 seconds in your own zone to read the defense, and engineer an effective breakout. That does not seem to be the Flyers intent, instead it was a stubborn stalemate.
To employ a bit of logic, likely beyond comprehension to the minds of Mike Milbury and Pierre McGuire, the goal of hockey is to win the game. In order to win the game, a team must score goals. In many years of watching hockey, I rarely see teams score by standing motionless in their own zone. Ergo (for Mike and Pierre, it means 'therefore') the Flyers could not win the game by employing this silly protest against what is in all actuality an effective defense. If the Flyers wanted to win the game, they sure as hell weren't going to accomplish it this way.
At any rate, the general consensus seems to be that the fans are the biggest losers here. For some reason, I can't remember hearing that last year in the playoffs, when the Lightning employed the same passive forecheck that they did last night. Maybe it's because it didn't happen. As I have said before, the ultimate goal is to win the game, and as a fan, I would much rather have this 'boring' win than a sloppy 9-8 loss like the Flyers had against Winnipeg a couple of weeks ago. I can point to two rather dynastic franchises of the last decade to find some success with stifling defense in the Red Wings and the Devils. Could we be witnessing the rise of a third?
Anonymous Lightning Fan