Where: Amalie Arena, Tampa, Florida
When: 7:30 PM EDT | Tickets: Check availability
Media: NBC Sports Net (cable) | 970 AM WFLA (radio) | Twitter Live Stream
Opponent Coverage: All Habs, Eyes on the Prize
Losing sucks, as does losing a close game. It frustrates those involved, especially knowing when they're capable of overcoming the challenges. It agitates because you have to deal with the immediate aftermath - like, say, listening to a cheering road crowd that rejoices in your failure.
"It was a genuine, (ticked) off attitude when we lost Game 5," Cooper said. "I could just tell nothing needed to be said. Guys were angry, and it's carried over."
Ah, yes, the Tampa Bay Lightning were angry after game 5; out and out (ticked) off is good, as long as it's not a frustrated kind of (ticked) off that comes from a degree of being lost on how to do the job they know they can do.
The Lightning knows how to shoot, how to score, how to win, but they've been lost play a style of game that's been holding a straight line with only blips of offensive rhetoric at any given time. That goes a long way from the frenzied, blood-in-the-water, swarming type of game the Bolts can churn up in the opponent's zone. It comes off as a departure from Tampa Bay Lightning hockey in general.
Yeah, the Bolts can play a very responsible game, but it's through responsibility that opportunity turns up - jump on a mistake by the Canadiens and make the most out of that chance. Instead it's ended with dump-ins and struggles to retain possession of the puck while in the Habs zone. And if possession is retained? Well, the shot on goal is a singular item before racing back to the neutral zone o their own zone to play defense.
That departure from how the club has played in general this season (ticks) the ever loving (poo) out of most fans. The Lightning dc play a good defensive game in their own end, but the repeated chances for Montreal makes it just a matter of time before they light the lamp. That's how game 5 ended; Steven Stamkos tied the game and Tampa went into a holding pattern before Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau gave Les Habs the lead with a little over 4 minutes left to play in the game.
There's a phrase that isn't used much anymore except by long-time Lightning fans who remember the playoff run of 2004: Safe is death. No risk, no chances taken on opportunities and everything just gets wasted away. Jon Cooper isn't John Tortorella but his teams aren't known to not know how to take chances and capitalize on them... At least not up until recently.
At any rate, Tampa Bay hosts the Habs one last time this season (and they can make it the Canadiens final game of the season). They are also at a place they've rarely been in 2014-15 - facing the risk of three consecutive losses. Pressure is mounting, which could continue to anger the club. Now the question is if they can use that as a motivator or not?
Motivation isn't the only thing that they could use from the energy the (ticked) off state of being generates; they need to compensate for the loss of Ryan Callahan from the lineup. You're aware at this point of Callahan being out, how Cooper plans to deal with the forced-change to the lineup isn't clear yet. One note from the optional morning skate that must be taken in is that the Black Aces provided an extra skater for the morning session: Jonathan Marchessault. Marchessault was called up immediately after the Syracuse Crunch's season ended last month and has seen himself recalled a few times during the season, but only appeared in two games all season, notching a goal and an assist. There's no telling if Marchessault will be looked at as starter before Jonathan Drouin, or if Marchessault will replace someone else in the lineup for the Bolts tonight.
Post morning-skate rhetoric says that Marchessault will take the pre-game skate and be a game-time decision, while Jonathan Drouin's status is completely uncertain and may remain the same as it's been more time than not during the playoffs - a healthy scratch.
Other Game Coverage:
- Tampa Bay Lightning official team preview
- Full coverage on SB Nation
- Live stream of Tampa Bay Lightning coverage on Twitter