The first two periods was a continuation of the last two games that the Lightning have played. They were lackluster and not a very cohesive group. It looked like a bunch of individuals instead of a team playing.
The defense didn’t stand anyone up at the blue line. Not to mention that the forwards collapsed defensively around the defense and the goaltender. Nobody was willing to defend their territory – and I mean that in the military sense of the word. No one stood their ground when and where they were supposed to.
Until the third period – which, by then, they were down 4-0 and it was finally time to mount a comeback. Only, the comeback never came. Oh sure, Jeff Halpern started it with his goal and breaking the shutout. And the team rallied around that, but there was no follow-through. They looked very good skating and shooting in the third, but the shots weren’t quality shots.
I guess I shouldn’t complain about the shooting. They did finally out-shoot an opponent – the first time in a while. Even if it was only barely. Shots were 40-39 in favor of Tampa Bay.
This team is slowly slipping back into last season form – and we all know how that went. The defense looks lost, the top players are struggling with both offense and defense, there too many penalties, and the goalies are being left to fend for themselves. To my eye, it looks as if there’s no coherent game plan. Even the power play, which was very good earlier this season, isn’t that great anymore. The penalty kill hasn’t really looked that great all season, however.
The message is getting lost somewhere, or there are too many competing messages that are drowning each other out, but no one seems to be on the same page. It’s hard to say if that’s a coaching issue or a team leadership issue, but there’s a communication breakdown going on somewhere. Maybe it’s that people are assuming that things just need to be mentioned once, instead of it being repeated periodically. Or, perhaps, it’s the fact that there are so many coaches on this team and they’re not all on the same page but saying conflicting things. I don’t know. But until someone figures out the problem, they’re not going to be going very far any time soon.
The next game is Friday, 4 December, at the New Jersey Devils and it’s a 7 pm Eastern start.