Game 26: Tampa Bay Lightning at Ottawa Senators

The Tampa Bay Lightning lost to the Ottawa Senators 4-2.

I realize that with all of the NHL realignment talk during the game, people might have missed the outcome. Well, the game went fairly well until the third period. Then it just...stopped going well.

It was another low-penalty affair, with each team receiving only three penalties apiece. Clean games are good, as there seems to have been a lack of them in recent years. So that's one positive to take away from this.

Tampa Bay opened the scoring in the second period. Bruno Gervais scored and gave the Lightning its first lead of the night. The Senators tied it in the second, but then Martin St. Louis gave the team the lead again in the third. The five minutes of game time between St. Louis's goal and Daniel Alfredsson's goal was the last time the Lightning led for the duration of the game.

The Lightning are playing a more well-rounded game these days, but they're still lacking in three areas. One, overall team defense - but I suppose that that's just how it will be with the style that Guy Boucher likes to play. The second problem is faceoffs. It's hard to shot the puck when you don't have possession of the puck, and faceoffs play a big part in that.

The last issue is perhaps a bit more technical. The Lightning's transition game is just awful, and that's probably their biggest problem right now. When they switch from offense to defense, or defense to offense, they're leaving a lot of openings on the ice and passing the puck in a rather haphazard way. It's killing them, particularly when it comes to neutral zone turnovers.

You add the poor faceoff winning percentages in this season, and that's why they can't get over the hump into a serious winning streak. They almost there, but they can't quite break out of the funk that they're in. So I think bettering faceoffs performance and working on a smoother transition game will help get them to where they want to go.

Their next game is tonight at the New York Islanders. Game time is at 7 pm Eastern. The Raw Charge game thread will open up at 6:30 pm, so please join us.