ECSF Game 2: Escape more-so than victory
The last 17 hours or so have been incredible in two regards... But we're a hockey blog, so we'll stick with the hockey storyline of regard. Watching Randy Jones clearing pass to Teddy Purcell, catching the Caps on that line change, and Vincent Lecavalier roofing the overtime game winner...
Huge. Friggin' huge.
But you did not need to sleep on the game to reflect on it. You don't need an expert, third-party opinion to see the truth: The Tampa Bay Lightning win was grand theft. It wasn't a pocket picking, it wasn't a smash-and-grab job, but it was a deft and opportunistic larceny.
Think Ocean's Twelve without the Julia Roberts impersonation farce.
Game two was absolutely owned by the Washington Capitals, who had outshot and mostly outclassed the Bolts after two periods of play. There was an 18 shot differential between the two clubs after 40 minutes (27 - 9 inf avor of the Caps).
And somehow, the game was tied at 1 going into that final period of play.
Of course, the above "somehow" ought not be left so vague: It was goalie Dwayne Roloson who kept the Bolts alive. He and the Tampa Bay Lightning penalty kill unit prevented what could have (should have?) been a lop-sided victory for the Washington Capitals.
Six short-handed situations faced by that Bolts PK, and nary an allowed goal. During those six power play opportunities for the Caps, the produced a total of 12 shots on goal, all turned back by #35.
While a win is a win, and winning takes both skill and luck, there's a ugliness about these games that we've seen the Bolts play in the 2011 NHL Playoffs that contradicts what Guy Boucher has preached since day one with this team: that being the shot differential and how the Bolts were supposed to be limiting shots while taking a plethora of their own.
In nine games played during the 2011 playoffs, Dwayne Roloson has faced a total of 310 shots and is facing (on average) 34 shots a night. The Lightning themselves are producing only 25 shots a night and have amassed a total of 225 shots on goal during the playoffs.
Much like I noted after the 8-2 drubbing of the Penguins in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, last night could have easily gone the other way. Any of these games where the Bolts stop trying to produce offense and let the opponent run roughshod over them, could go the other way.
They've been damn lucky it hasn't happened in this series yet.
I know it's easy to get caught up in the excitement of the 2-0 series lead with the team heading back to Tampa, and of Dwayne "Get Off My Lawn!" Roloson's effort in net... But the Lightning are in dire need of getting back to limiting shots on goal and producing more of their own.
If not, instead of escaping with wins, they'll be handcuffed with losses and escorted to the nearest golf course for the remainder of the playoffs, and the long summer that ensues after it's completion.
Eastern Conference Semifinals prediction
|Tampa Bay in 4 Games||15|
|Washington in 4 Games||7|
|Tampa Bay in 5 Games||35|
|Washington in 5 Games||41|
|Tampa Bay in 6 Games||91|
|Washington in 6 Games||80|
|Tampa Bay in 7 Games||36|
|Washington in 7 Games||22|