The Lightning lost again last night as they failed to convert a bevy of chances into actual goals. There were a lot of positives to pull from the contest against the Buffalo Sabres (a dominating first 40 minutes, they looked fast and their puck retrieval game was strong, they stayed out of the penalty box for the most part, Boris Katchouk and Taylor Raddysh once again had solid games) but the end result just wasn’t there. While I am trying to remain patient, knowing that it is a long season, there is a tremendous sense of annoyance with the recent outcomes.
Coach Cooper mentioned that while he is generally happy with the way they’ve played as of late, they have to find a way to start picking up points. They don’t want to get too far behind in their division, after all they can’t always rely on 10-game winning streaks to bail them out of early season holes. The good news is that it seems like they are just a tick off at even strength and the goals should start coming pretty soon as long as they don’t get frustrated and get away from what they’ve been doing over the last few games.
Last night there was some semblance of the team we’ve gotten used to seeing when they’re on their game. They broke out of their own zone cleanly (for the most part), attacked the neutral zone with speed, and entered into the Buffalo zone fairly cleanly. Once they were in the zone they worked the puck back to the points and had their blueliners get the puck on net.
The were able to retrieve the pucks fairly well and maintain zone time, cycling around to line up more shots. They generated 70 shot attempts over the 60 minutes of action, which is one of their highest totals of the season. Some credit is due to Buffalo for blocking 18 shots and forcing another 16 wide. The Sabres did collapse around their net and disrupted a lot of rebound attempts.
Still, the Lightning were determined to get into the dirty areas and try to score on tip-ins or redirections. The heat map shows that a lot of their chances came from where you want to come from - the front of the net:
This is their game plan and they executed it. Sometimes you just run into a goaltender that makes the key saves when he needs to and that’s what Craig Anderson did on Monday night. You can do all of the right things and still not score. Take this sequence for instance:
The Lightning move it quickly from their zone through the neutral zone to get Taylor Raddysh in the open. He reads the play right - there is no pass to be made so he wrists a shot on net. Boris Katchouk beats two Sabres to the puck, but Anderson slides over to make the save. How many times do we see this play end up in a goal?
Alex Barré-Boulet made his Lightning debut on the third line with Ross Colton and Corey Perry. He played pretty well in his 14:34 of ice time (including 1:27 on the second power play unit). He was upside down on shot share at 5v5 (12-15) but it wasn’t egregious and a lot of it was due to one shift where his line got caught out on the ice way too long. I thought he was rather responsable defensively for the most part. He also spied Stamkos behind the defense and sent him in on a breakaway with a nice pass. If he draws back in against Pittsburgh it would be nice to see him attempt a shot or two.
Brian Elliott was fine. Two of the goals he allowed weren’t great. He totally lost track of the puck on the first one, but considering it was his first regular season game since May 10th, I’ll cut him some slack on that one. The third goal, I’m sure he wants that one back. Vinnie Hinostroza was right in front of him and there was no screen.
Hinostroza steal and snipe.— The Charging Buffalo (@TheChargingBUF) October 26, 2021
Sabres lead the Lightning 3-1. pic.twitter.com/tv3TbCUITW
As you can see, he is leaning just a bit to his right as Hinostroza fires it back to his left. If Elliott had stayed squared up, chances are he makes that stop. For the most part he did his job and kept the Lightning in the game long enough for them to score more than one goal.
Lightning / NHL News
Alex Killorn played well. So did the Bellemare/Katchouk/Raddysh line. The Bolts just need to turn the page on this one and move on to the next one. The wins will come.
Our friends over at Die By the Blade were a little happier with the outcome.
Not a great hit by Steven Stamkos on Dylan Cozens
Coach Cooper after the game:
The Anaheim Ducks placed Alexander Volkov on waivers for the purpose of a contract termination. Chances are the 24-year-old is heading to Europe or Russia to pursue his career there.
While Sidney Crosby is amping up the work at Penguin practices, he’s probably not going to play against the Lightning today. It looks like the Pens will also be without Kris Letang who has tested positive for COVID. He’ll have to test negative on consecutive days in order to be released from isolation. Jeff Carter is still in isolation as well after testing positive last week.
Things could be worse Lightning fans, you could be cheering for the Leafs.