View From the Other Bench:
We reached out to Fear the Fin and Sie Nicole was nice enough to respond:
“Early in the season, San Jose versus Tampa Bay looked like a Stanley Cup Final preview. If only we were so lucky. Sorry, Bolts fans.
“Both Sharks goaltenders faced off against the Lightning, with Martin Jones between the pipes in Tampa Bay in November and Aaron Dell in San Jose in January. In November, the Sharks were without Logan Couture and Joonas Donskoi, which meant new names had to work their way onto the scoresheet. Patrick Marleau, Tommy Wingels, and Marc Edouard Vlasic stepped up to lead the Sharks to a 3-1 victory. The Sharks' bottom six were on a bit of a hot streak early in the season and this was well before the power play troubles that plagued the second half of their season.
“When they met again in January, Couture was back in the lineup and he made an impression, scoring the game winning goal. The game started with a heavy presence from Tampa Bay and the Sharks seemed to be feeling the effects of the compressed schedule, on the second half of a back to back. Ryan Carpenter opened scoring for the Sharks and they seemed to wake up. Jonathan Drouin answered on a power play, and the Lightning dominated the rest of the period. But 22 seconds into the third, Couture scored the game winning goal.
“Both games were a third straight win for the Sharks.
“When these teams come together, it's high-paced, exciting hockey to watch. The Sharks' defense is a hard one for the Lightning to crack. The best goal in the series was easily Jonathan Drouin's power play goal on Dell. There are cracks in the armor, and the Lightning do everything they can to find it.”
Did the Sharks help or hurt the Lightning this season?
Before we get to helping or hurting, a moment to watch a video.
I’ve been to many Lightning games. I’ve seen them on the east coast, the west coast and places in between. I’ve seen the good and the bad, the Lecavalier’s and the Drulia’s and without a doubt this was the best Lightning goal I’ve seen live. It’s impressive on video, but watching it in the arena surrounded by Sharks fans was amazing. The subtle moves and ability to kick it into another gear to effortlessly skate around Vlasic was Jonathan Drouin encapsulated all into one neat little package. Years from now, this is what I will remember about Drouin.
Two games, two losses and zero points. This is a slam dunk, the Sharks definitely hurt the Lightning’s chances at making the playoffs. The first loss was a momentary blip on a still positive season as the Lightning won their next four games.
The second loss was during the west coast road trip where the Lightning were transitioning to a grind it out team. A 2-1 loss to a Western Conference powerhouse on the heels of back-to-back games in LA and Anaheim wasn’t seen as a horrible loss (unlike their next game in Arizona).
While looked at independently, the two losses weren’t that bad, but they were symptomatic of the struggles the Lightning had against top competition all year. Yes, the second loss was a close game but they only generated 24 shots against the Sharks and it took a heroic, power-play effort to put a goal past rookie Aaron Dell. Top-tier teams should feast on rookie goaltenders, not get shut down by them.
November 12, 2016 - Tampa Bay 1, San Jose 3
“The surprise for Tampa Bay this year has been on defense, where the team is struggling more than it's used to. Ben Bishop is off to a shaky start, opening the door for Andrei Vasilevskiy to siphon off starts. Bishop is expected to be in net for this one. Though the team is an excellent 5-1-1 at home and Bishop himself has a 3-1 record, his peripheral stats are very poor.”
“The first goal against was an ugly fluke, with Patrick Marleau ending up as firmly embedded in Ben Bishop's net as the puck and Brayden Point. At first the ruling on the ice was no goal due to interference, but San Jose used their coach's challenge and had it overturned because a Bolt was the one who made contact with Bishop. It was ruled a good goal.”
January 19, 2017 - Tampa Bay 1, San Jose 2
“Just one thing. For the love of everything that is holy in hockey, please, Coach Cooper, just keep feeding Jonathan Drouin more ice time with good players. This is something you should’ve realized a while ago, but hey better late than never. Play. Jonathan. Drouin. That is all. Moving on, though…”
“Tonight was a nice glimpse at what the Bolts can be, but they just can’t seem to get together three good periods of hockey at a time. The California road trip is never easy but I would have liked to get more than three points out of the last three games.”
In the Pointless Stat of the Season column - at two hours and twenty-one minutes this was the Lightning’s shortest game of the season.
Goals: Anton Stralman (1), Jonathan Drouin (1)
Assists: Brian Boyle (2), Cedric Paquette (1), Nikita Kucherov (1)
Andrei Vasilevskiy - .917 Sv% (22 saves on 24 shots)
Ben Bishop - .850 Sv% (17 saves on 20 shorts)