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Lightning Round: Clear Heads, Full Nets, Can’t Lose

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The Lightning had a day to clear their heads

Tampa Bay Lightning v New York Islanders - Game Four Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

During Sunday’s off-day press conference, NHL.com’s Dan Rosen asked the players available and Coach Cooper the same question. Basically, does having a day off like Sunday, where the players just had to travel back to Tampa and then had the rest of the day to do whatever give them a chance to clear their heads a bit after a tough loss.

The collective answer was basically, sure. It makes sense, that getting away from the rink after a tough loss, in the middle of an even tougher series, would be good for the soul. That got me to thinking about how nice it must be compared to last season in the bubble. This year, after a loss, the players get to head home and sleep in their own beds. They can talk with their family or friends. Head out to the beach or a nice restaurant (at least I think they can do that, not 100% sure what the beach protocol is in the NHL during the last days of the COVID restrictions).

Last year they didn’t have that opportunity. They basically went back to the hotel room and stared at a computer screen or a TV. I’m sure escaping a tough loss, like maybe the Game Five 2-1 overtime defeat to these same Islanders, was harder to put behind them because there were no distractions to take their mind off of it. They could only stare at the wall and think about what they could have done better. It had to be tough for them.

Honestly, it made the fact that they didn’t lose back-to-back games last season even more impressive. The fact that they didn’t go into a tailspin after blowing a game at any point during their run is downright amazing. So, is the fact that they’ve continued that streak and have a chance to run it to 12-0 after a loss if they pull out Game Five tonight.

They’ve bit into the coaching staff’s philosophy of not getting too high after a win or too low after a loss hook, line, and sinker. There just isn’t a sense of desperation or despair in this team. The players that were interviewed admitted that yes, they could have played better, but there was no frustration or anger about it. Just plain spoken matter-of-factness.

Time after time they’ve shown that they can bounce back from bad games and that’s what has set them apart from the other teams in the playoffs. A loss just triggers them to play a better game. Much like a boxer who has to get hit in the mouth to wake up in a fight, they sometimes seem to need a little jolt to snap things into place and respond with better play.

Game Five would be the perfect time to play their best game of the series. They responded in Game Two to a lackluster Game One performance and provided one of there better efforts in the playoffs. It wouldn’t be surprising to see them duplicate that effort at home in Game Five. Being able to rest in their own homes is just an added benefit.

Lightning Links

All they have to blame is blame themselves

Matt breaks down the Game Four loss and the prevailing problem is the Lightning themselves. Stop turning the puck over, boys!

Five things Lightning need to do win the series

A common them among the five suggestions is scoring. That would be ideal. It feels like the Bolts are due for a flood of goals. Hopefully it happens in Game Five, and Six, and Seven if necessary.

Ross Colton chats with NHL tonight

Ross the Boss. Ross Goalton. Ross the Rookie. Whatever you want to call him, Ross Colton is having a strong playoff run on the fourth line. He’s also one of the few players on the Lightning side of the ice who hasn’t been through this before. He chatted with NHL.com.

Mishkin and Esposito are a perfect pair

I have an odd work schedule that often has me at my place of employment at nights during the game. I’m not able to watch the games on those nights, but I can usually listen to the radio broadcast. It is an absolute delight to listen to Dave Mishkin and Phil Esposito call a hockey game. Yes Mish gets a little excited from time to time and Espo grumbles about the refs a lot, but they are pretty enjoyable as a pair. And one of my low-key favorite things about them is when Espo refers to MIshkin as “David” in a calming voice when Mish is worked up about a call or a bad play. He sounds just like a patient father trying to calm his son.

Hockey News

Golden Knights GM tests positive for COVID

First it was Montreal head coach Dominique Ducharme testing positive, now it’s Vegas General Manager Kelly McCrimmon. At least they’re keeping it away from the players...for now.

Talking head picks weird hill to die on

Of all the awards the NHL has handed out this week, the Lady Byng seemed to generate the least amount of controversy. Jaccob Slavin played a lot of minutes against a lot of good players and took all of one penalty (a delay of game for flipping the puck over the glass) and he seems like a rather nice, or gentlemanly, dude off of the ice. Enter Damien Cox (who has apparently blocked our Twitter account), who spent the day railing against the pick and the PHWA for voting Slavin the winner over Auston Matthews or Connor McDavid. Really weird way to be the person just about everyone disagrees with on Twitter.

Last Night’s Game

Vegas 2, Montreal 1 (OT)

Series tied at 2

Nicolas Roy scored one minute into overtime to give the Golden Knights (and Robin Lehner) the 2-1 win in Montreal. Just like the Lightning series, it’s heading to a pivotal Game Five all tied up.