Game 16: Tampa Bay Lightning at Pittsburgh Penguins

The Tampa Bay Lightning lost to the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-1.

This was the team's first full game without captain Vincent Lecavalier on the ice, and it showed. The team lacked consistent direction and drive. They sort of just floated along until Steven Stamkos scored in the early part of the third period. Only then did they show some life.

Not that Stamkos had a great game himself. He might've score the only Lightning goal, but he didn't have a shot on net until the third period - and he ended the game with only two shots. His faceoff percentage wasn't great, either. He only won 5 of the total 14 faceoffs he took (36%).

But he was just one on an entire team that struggled. The Lightning had 16 shots on goal for the entire game. There have been periods this season where they'd shot more than 16 times on net. This was probably one of the lowest shot totals for them for a game this entire season.

The Lightning also was 1-8 on the power play. Parts of which were 5-on-4 and 5-on-3. And they were still unable to score. They were one of the top power play teams in the league earlier this season.

About the only good points were that Tampa Bay only had two turnovers all game, and they were still blocking a lot of shots as a team (14 for the game).

The bottom line is that the team lacked leadership. No one stood up and took over in Lecavalier's absence. Instead, they all waited for someone else to do it. And it really showed on the ice and on the scoreboard.

A lot has been made about Lecavalier, his goal scoring ability, and his salary. And that's certainly a valid point. But there's so much more that he brings to the team than that. Sure, maybe the Lightning aren't paying him whatever to be a defensive forward who racks up assists and to be a good captain.

But then you see games like this - and like the night before where the team was night and day with him on the ice and without - and maybe he is worth all that money, if only to give his teammates that added confidence. If a team can't play well without its captain, then what exactly is that captain really worth?

John Fontana had asked me during the game thread if this game had reminded me of any last season. And it did. It reminded me of when Vinny had been relegated to the third and fourth lines during a game in Philadelphia early last season.

Former head coach Rick Tocchet was trying to make an example of Lecavalier - or, if you believe the rumors, trying to make his life hell so that he'd as to be traded. So he tried to humiliate Vinny but putting him in a grinder role that night. Vinny played decently despite that, but the rest of the team didn't. Instead of this demotion provoking the team to do better, the entire team crumbled - and all because their captain wasn't playing on the top line where they thought he should be.

The next Lightning game is tomorrow, 14 November. It's an early game that's starting at 5 pm Eastern in Tampa. The Minnesota Wild are in town. If you're not attending the game, stop in on our game thread, which opens at 4:30 pm.

Lightning vs Penguins recap [TSN]

Lightning vs Penguins boxscore [TSN]

Lightning vs Penguins coverage [SB Nation]

PensBurgh [SB Nation]