After the events of game 1 on Wednesday, you'd hope the Tampa Bay Lightning could, y'know, maybe go a little harder for a sustained period of time... Like all game. To recap (like you need that) Wednesday, the Bolts came out and put one on net early to open scoring then allowed 4 unanswered goals by the Isles until just shy of 12 minutes remained in the 3rd period.
That's 49 minutes between goals; forty-nine.
Too often in the regular season of 2015-16, Tampa Bay has failed in a fashion like this - strike first, hold back too long and then make a last ditch effort that ultimately comes up short. Some of those games had lower scores by opponents but the habit was the same. That's a point to focus on here, the habit. The competitive edge and drive seemed to back off too fast after a lead was gained and it returned with the urgency of the late game, coming up short in the end. Too bad, so sad, we'll get'em next game, right? Right??
That mentality doesn't work in the Second Season. Urgency is the standard of each moment - to put your team ahead and keep pushing for more, all while stifling the opposition for the sake of protecting your quest - victory and ultimately the Cup.
It's not like there isn't offensive ability in the players on the Lightning roster not named Steven Stamkos, it's not like the club is useless without him in the lineup. Any fan thinking otherwise hasn't paid enough attention to games where the Lightning won and Stamkos' name wasn't associated at all with who tallied goals to win a game for Tampa Bay. There's also that little fact the Lightning actually got to the Eastern Conference Semifinals by way of, ya' know, scoring more goals than the Detroit Red Wings (as well as limiting how often the Wings scored).
Making that last remark on defense it's worth noting Matt Carle was listed as day-to-day by the club on Friday after missing practice. Couple the notion Anton Stralman is not near ready to return to the Lightning lineup and it raises the possibility of Matt Taormina or Slater Koekkoek stepping into the Lightning defensive hole created by Carle's status. It's actually possible for both players to get into the lineup (via 11 forward, 7 defenseman lineup split) with thanks to Erik Condra's status after his incident on Wednesday that knocked him out of the lineup.
Another question created by possibly losing Matt Carle should be aimed directly at Lightning head coach Jon Cooper and his faith and time investment in players who are tasked with specific roles in the lineup. Lack of faith seems to be showing up too often by way of ice-time and shift reductions. Forward Jonathan Marchessault is an enigmatic example with substantial time reduction during season as well as specifically Wednesday; under 5 minutes of ice time total despite the fact the Bolts were missing Condra (who had played only 57 seconds before being knocked out). Vladislav Namestnikov is another example, who had less than 10 minutes of ice time on Wednesday. It's been a running piece of chatter the past few weeks of what seems like issues that contradict time investment in Namestnikov during the season, playing him at times with Steven Stamkos (as his wing and as Stammer's center).
Here's the rub with it all - this is the Second Season, you can't get away with this crap now like you can't get away with the last-ditch-effort attempts. I don't know what the dissatisfaction is with the games of Marchessault or Namestnikov, but getting lost to player opinion in-game when the chips are down is a poor time to get lost on it. It also leads to wonder if we'll see this type of issue pop up again with Jonathan Drouin in the lineup, whose role was reduced and his time on ice was substantially reduced during the first half of the season before his reassignment to the Syracuse Crunch and the issues that played out with thanks to that transaction.
I don't know the deal that's led to lapses in ice time, but a learning-experience is no longer an applicable excuse for it to go on. Going with ultimately a 10 forward lineup is asking for trouble.